Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - Page 18 News List

EURO 2012 GROUP A: Greece would like a repeat of their Euro 2004 success

Reuters, ATHENS

Greece players warm up during the team’s training session on Tuesday in Legionowo, Poland.

Photo: EPA

Few people believed Greece could win Euro 2004, but even fewer think it possible they will ever repeat such a success.

Eight years on from the country’s greatest sporting achievement, Greece again find themselves among the rank outsiders ahead of a major tournament.

Greece fans will tell you there is nothing wrong with being underdogs, because, of course, they audaciously won the tournament in Portugal as 100-1 long shots, but the likelihood of the current team emulating that feat appears remote.

The manager might have changed, with Portuguese Fernando Santos refreshing the squad by experimenting with younger players, as well as keeping faith in a few well-established generals, but not too much else.

Greece conceded just five goals in 10 qualifying matches, but they also scored only 14, the lowest tally of any of the teams that qualified.

Santos is spoilt for choice when it comes to determined and energetic defenders.

Greek player of the year Avraam Papadopoulos of Olympiakos Piraeus and Werder Bremen’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos are his first-choice central defensive pairing.

However, highly rated centerback Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 20, is making strong claims for a starting berth.

He was not used in the first half of the campaign, but the Schalke 04 youngster started four of the final five qualifiers, showing impressive maturity. He can also play as a holding midfielder and he scored important goals against Latvia and Malta.

Santos also has a touch of finesse in his defense in fullbacks Vasilis Torosidis and Jose Holebas. Both love to go forward and are capable of scoring goals and making them. Holebas, in particular, has made great strides since his international debut in November.

They are backed up with the likes of Olympiakos’s Giannis Maniatis and Monaco’s Giorgos Tzavellas.

Greece’s attack is without a doubt their problem area.

Celtic’s Giorgos Samaras plays in a wide role in Greece’s 4-3-3 system and although his pace provides a threat, he does not score enough goals.

Fanis Gekas is likely to lead the attack, but the 31-year-old striker’s scoring touch seems to have deserted him.

After Gekas, Greece have PAOK Thessaloniki strikers Dimitris Salpigidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis, while Panathinaikos forward Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, 25, might be used as an impact substitute.

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