Greece: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Best Ever Finish: Group Stage (1994, 2010)
Manager: Fernando Santos
Captain: Giorgios Karagounis
Greece qualified for this World Cup after a hard fought victory against Romania in the playoffs. A pulsating first leg saw the job pretty much done, with prolific forward Konstantinos Mitroglou bagging a brace in a 3-1 win; they went on to draw 1-1 in Romania.
This summer marks ten years since their historic triumph in the European Championships and boss Fernando Santos will be tasked with pulling off a similarly miraculous feat in Brazil.
Unlikely, yes, but the Greeks are a team that remain tough to beat ten years on from when their resolute defence and unequalled togetherness saw them overcome the odds in Portugal.
Santos has tried to introduce a little more fluidity into this side, but stylistically, their footballing principles have deviated little over the past decade. They conceded just four goals in their ten qualifying games and have two outstanding young central defenders in Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Being solid is all well and good, but keeping the ball will be an issue in Brazil. They don’t have an abundance of technical players and could yet start the tournament with thirty-six-year-old Giorgos Karagounis at the heart of their midfield.
Constantly being on the back foot in the punishing South American heat will surely take it’s toll and with that in mind, they look capable of little other than an early exit.
Key Player – Konstantinos Mitroglou
Greece have been long lacking a top quality centre-forward, but in Mitroglou they might have one in the making. The Olympiacos striker has blossomed this season and in the early stages of the campaign showcased an exceptionally cool head in front of goal.
He seems to be improving rapidly and it is no surprise big names like Liverpool and Arsenal have been touted as potential suitors.
Given the service, Mitroglou can bang in the goals for this Greek team. Getting the ball to him in dangerous areas is another challenge altogether, though. Mitroglou’s movement needs to be clever and his finishing needs to brutally efficient.