The wisdom of ages past: Greece World Cup Preview
Greece will be looking to put previous World Cup heartbreak behind as they head into Brazil this summer. The European team have never progressed through the group stages in their two brief appearances at the competition. Only winning one world cup game in South Africa in 2010, they will be optimistic to end this drought.
How they qualified
Greece came runners up in the UEFA qualifying group G, however only on goal difference to winners Boznia. The two teams finished on 25 points, leaving a vast 12 point gap from 3rd place Solvakia. The group consisted of 6 european teams, who faced each other twice. The winners of each group were automatically qualified for the World Cup, whilst the runners up were placed in a playoff. As runners-up, Greece progressed to the playoff game, beating Romania 4-2 on aggregate. The win in the first leg would have been particularly pleasing for Fernando Santos’ team, beating Romania 3-1, thanks to a brace from new Fulham signing Konstantinos Mitroglou. Mitroglou also netted in the second-leg, a 1-1 draw to propel Greece to Brazil.
On the 19th May, Portuguese manager Fernando Santos narrowed his preliminary 30 man squad down to the final 23 man squad. It seems that he is gone largely with experience, even though youth is still present.
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos).
Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Kostas Manolas (Olympiakos), Vangelis Moras (Hellas Verona), José Holebas (Olympiakos), Georgios Tzavellas (PAOK), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiakos).
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Andreas Samaris (Olympiakos), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna).
Forwards: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK).
Notable members of the Greek team include Fulham double Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Mitroglou, and Celtic forward Georgios Samaras.
Captain Karagounis holds the Greek national record for the highest amount of appearances. The midfielder has nothing short of 132 caps for his national side. As he approaches his 38th birthday, this will be his last major tournament almost certainly, so he will be really keen to leave on a bang.
Celtic fan favourite Georgios Samaras will be desperate to add to his 8 international goals. The 29 year old signed for Scottish club Celtic after his unsuccessful spell with Manchester City. The striker is very capable, and if he is keen on a move back to England in the near future, he will be looking to impress in the competition this summer.
New Fulham signing Kostas Mitroglou’s first season with the West London White’s was not as successful as he had hoped, due to a knee injury the forward only started one game, which might prove to be his last. However, he still proves to be a danger man and his first half of the season before his England move was fantastic, scoring an incredible 14 goals in 12 games.
Probable Starting XI
Greece find themselves in group C of the World Cup, alongside Columbia, Japan and the Ivory Coast. I’m sure Greece could have thought of much harder groups to be part of, so if the results go their way, a progression through the group stage is very much possible.