UEFA Euro 2012 Group A review - part 3 - Greece
Greece may be rich on tradition, but when it comes to football the once mighty nation only has the amazing, and totally unexpected win under Otto Rehhagel of the UEFA Euro 2004 to show for. No Olympic medals and no glory worth mentioning in either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA Euro Championships. That said; Greece is no walk over by any standards. Here we review the Greek chances in the UEFA Euro 2012 and consider the odds available for betting.
Greatness of the past
We will not dwell on the past too long this time around, but one man stands out in Greek soccer for us. He is not even nearly enough celebrated for his talent. Originally from Uzbekistan, attacking midfielder Vassilis Hatzipanagis of Iraklis FC is by most considered to be the brightest Greek soccer star of all times. He terrorized defences in Greece for two decades starting in the early seventies. He was often referred to as the poet of soccer his dribbling skill and silky touches left the opposition scratching their heads.
UEFA Euro 2004 heroes
Often referred to as the biggest soccer upset ever, the Greek 2004 Euro triumph shows just what can happen when a higher ranked Second Tier European team finds unity, composure and luck at the crucial moments.
No offence to Otto Rehhagel and his men, but they looked an ordinary team on paper. Nikopolidis occupied the keeper position with Kapsis, Dellas, Fyssas and Seitaridis in front of him making up the defence. The midfield consisted of Basinas, Zagorakis holding the central fort and Katsouranis, Karagounis and Giannakopoulous taking slightly more advanced positions. Charisteas was the lone striker.
The team played a fantastic tournament relying on defensive structures more than charming offensive play. The team was on the lucky end of things on more than a couple occations, but one can never take away from this team their passion, skill and tactics. They fought hard and they were deserved winners come the final whistle all things considered.
UEFA Euro 2012 odds
Greece UEFA Euro 2012 odds on winning the whole thing are currently between 60 and 75. For small money you can get more at the leading betting exchanges. Odds for winning the group are around 4-50-5.00. Are these odds useful? We think not. Winning the cup is a big ask for this team who will face Poland at home turf and surely a Russia that will have plenty of “home” support as well.
That said: Be aware that this Greek team went undefeated for 10 matches during the qualification. They beat highly favored Croatia and played well generally in a group also consisting of Israel, Latvia, Georgia and Malta. Recently they were held 1-1 at home in a friendly against up and coming Belgium.
Also; beware that this Greek edition also is a defensive focused one. Out of their 10 qualification games only 3 went over 2.5 goals. Two of these three 2.5+ games came on Greek turf.
Greek UEFA Euro 2012 defensive team sheet
The Greek UEFA Euro 2012 edition is a mix of up and coming talent and old veterans in general. For the goalkeeper position the Greeks seem to be undecided. Alexandros Tzorvas who hasn’t impressed at all for Palermo, Orestis Karnezis of Panatinaikos Michalis Sifakis of Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK man Kostas Chalkias seem to be the one in contention.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos is an exciting future prospect you surely will hear more of. He is a central defender playing for Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga. He can also cover up as a holding midfielder. This guy is still only 20 years old as of writing, but he is already playing at a very high level and is full of passion and energy.
Avraam Papadopoulos originates from Australia, but he is holding a Greek passport. He plays his football with red and white striped Olympiacos, and is a solid right sided and central defender that has been used quite a bit by coach Fernando Santos.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a young guy, currently only 23 found playing for Werder Bremen the German Bundesliga (Loaned from Genoa). It is safe to say he is very important for this team. As of late he has been paired in the Central defense with Avraam Papadopoulos or someone else. He has participated in the very successful youth set up in Greece as of late that now is starting to produce world class talent. He could easily do a good job for Greece also on either flank of the defense.
Vasilis Torosidis is expected to occupy the right side of defense, although the competition for this spot is really tough given the squad. Depending on how the coach sees things Torosidis can also be deployed on the left with success.
Should Torosidis not play on the right Loukas Vyntra seems an obvious choice. Originally from the Czech Republic but doing his thing in Panathinaikos this versatile right sided defender usually deliver the goods when called upon. It must be said he has been struggled with his knee lately, so what to expect from him is a bit up in the air.
José Holebas is the number one choice on the left. He can play both at the back and in a more advanced winger position. This guy plays for Greece even if he was born in Germany (Parents from Greece and Uruguay). Holebas is a bit of a late bloomer one can say. It wasn’t until 2011 he shone but he has had an impact on the football Olympiacos play, and is expected to add offensive fire power to this side from whatever position he is played in.
Nikolaos Spyropoulos will most likely get a go in the UEFA Euro 2012 squad as well. This Panathinaikos player can do silky work both on the left side of defense and as a cover up option defensively in midfield.
Konstantinos Katsouranis is the first choice holding midfielder in the Greek setup. This experienced player performs the daily grind at his beloved Panathinaikos. He even transferred there after being named Benfica player of the year in 2009 and being chased by a wide range of European top clubs. Being part of the victorious 2004 team and this most likely being his last tournament, expect him to shine yet again.
Alexandros Tziolis is another player who can take on the defensive midfield role should he be called upon. He is currently a squad player only for Monaco in France, but has featured in qualification matches for Greece in the run-up to the UEFA Euro, so he might be included in the squad.
Greek UEFA Euro 2012 Central Midfield, Wings and Attack
Georgios Fotakis of PAOK is a versatile player who should see playing time in the UEFA Euro 2012. He can play centrally on midfield or get busy on the wings. Perhaps not a star name this, but an all-round decent performer that seems stable.
Giannis Maniatis was mainly thought of as a right back and a cover up option on right back, but he has played a slightly more advanced midfield role for the Greek National team. So far it seems this more advanced role suits him and his energetic style just fine.
Georgios Karagounis is the Captain of the crew and another experienced player in this squad. He too took part in the Glory days of 2004 and even scored the first goal of the tournament. He might not be the most physical presence on the pitch in terms of height and muscle, but his vision, passing, dribbeling and other creative skills have made him an international career to be proud of.
Dimitrios Salpingidis of PAOK is expected to hold the right side of the attack. Salpingidis is an offensive minded player who also can take on a more central attacking role. We are perhaps not talking star matrial here, but again we are dealing with a player of the what you see is what you get caliber. Given that this particular level is relatively high in Greece we got a good player here no doubt.
Celtic’s Georgios Samaras is most likely taking the left side of the attacking line. He can obviously also take the central forward role should he be called upon. Having had a spell in the English Premier League with Manchester City that can’t be described as a success he moved on to Celtic where he has gradually been moved from a central position to the left. This has yielded good results and he now looks very comfortable in this role.
Konstantinos Fortounis is only 19 years of age. He is held in high regard by the Greeks, and many believe he can be the next “Hatzipanagis”. That label is not easy to carry for a young man. He plays for Kaiserslautern in the German Bundesliga and can perform centrally and in more attacking positions. Most likely this tournament is a wee bit too early for him, but if the Greeks unleash him let’s hope for a show from the young man.
Sotiris Ninis is another product of the youth setup in Greece although he is born in Albania. He currently plays for Panathinaikos and is a good alternative in any advanced attacking midfield role as well as the right wing. This tournament may be a little bit too early for him coming off a nasty injury, but there is an outside chance he will figure.
Giannis Fetfatzidis of Olympiacos is yet another youngster. He is referred to as the Greek Messi by many a fan. Obviously the guy can play ball, and he is young. For him as well this tournament might be coming on a little too early, but he might very well get a place in the squad. If he does we expect him to come on the pitch playing from the right, as a striker or in an advanced attacking position.
Theofanis Gekas is the man who has gotten the nod up front. We are talking about a natural born goal scorer here, but for defensive minded Greece he hasn’t delivered since October 2011. Currently he is playing for Samsunspor in Turkey after leaving 2nd Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt where he scored in nearly 48% of the games played. In Turkey he has gotten off to an explosive start scoring a whopping 8 goals in 11 apperances.
Good ole Angelos Charisteas might also be called upon. The classy striker who scored three goals in the UEFA Euro 2004 played as recently as in November for the Greek side. His experience might be what gets him into the thick of things, but the chances are slim.
Stefanos Athanasiadis of PAOK is a young gun that is up and coming. He has been noticed and rewarded with three senior appearances for the Greek Senior side already. Probably a player for the future if he keeps on developing, most likely this tournament will be one without his stamp on it.
Nikos Liberopoulos is not a young gun, that’s for sure. That said; he is a highly capable striker from AEK Athens. What makes this guy one for the history books is that he has managed the quite amazing feat of getting praise from both AEK and Panathinaikos fans alike after highly successful spells at both clubs. Known as a super sub with super honed instincts and technique there just might be room for him this time around.
Again we analyzed a team where versatility is a key word (even if we didn’t use the word itself very often). Especially (again) in defense the versatility is fantastic. The team has defenders who can move the ball forward and play higher up on the pitch. Sounds like modern football, eh? True, it does.
The problems only arise when we look to the offensive side of things. The team has got good players up on the pitch, and there is a great generation coming up, but for this very championship there is lack of pure attacking class.
If Greece is to have a great tournament they will need to focus on their defensive strength and hope for the very experienced front three to work some magic on their own by the look of things. Santos most likely doesn’t dare to let the youngsters go at it free flow just yet. That is understandable, but we can’t help feeling he should. Samras, Gekas and Salpingidis are good players no doubt, but they don’t exactly get our fists pumping and adrenaline rushing. Fetfatzidis if given a chance might fall through, but then again; he might also get us up from the sofa (not a bad feat by it self).