Euro 2012: Greece Won't Repeat Euro 2004 Miracle Despite Qualifying for Quarters
The first surprise entry into the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championship has taken place. Greece reached the quarterfinals when Giorgos Karagounis, the most capped Greek player, scored the only goal in the match against Russia in the final group game.
With Greece and Russia both on four points, Greece went through on the head-to-head rule. Neutrals will not be pleased to see the Russians, who had managed to score four in their opening group game, go out. Andrey Arshavin's men played some attractive football compared to Greece who have created one of the lowest number of shots on goal in the tournament.
Greece played a similar brand of football in Euro 2004, when they surprisingly beat all odds and went all the way to win the trophy. That year, Spain and Russia were the teams who had to bow out at the group stages. Interestingly, the last group game was Russia vs. Greece that year too. The difference was that the Russians won 2-1 and Greece still went through on goals scored.
Imagine that, Greece scoring more than Spain. Well, times have changed since then, and that scenario possibly would have had one to a million odds of being repeated.
Having said that, I was wondering what the odds are for Greece doing a 2004 once again. They actually range from 33 to 50 over various sites. I would not suggest it, though, simply because a repeat of 2004 will not take place.
For starters, Greece will play one of the four teams from the group of death (Group B) in the quarters. Greece are favorites to lose against any of the Group B teams let alone Germany, the strongest of them and the team that the Greeks will most likely face.
Can Greece emulate its feat of 2004 once again this year?
The resemblance with 2004 is uncanny. In the quarters, Greece beat France, one of the favorites that year. This year it will probably be Germany. Though I do not think Germany will let Greece repeat a similar upset. The Germans are giving a solid feel this year at the Euros and seem to be willing to grind out results as shown against Portugal.
Making matters worse for Greece is the absence of its hero against Russia, Giorgos Karagounis. Karagounis was carded and will miss the next game through suspension.
Let us compare the 11 that played against Russia yesterday night to the one that beat Portugal in the final eight years ago. The average age is lower this year at 27.36 when compared to 2004's 29.54. However, at the same time, the number of caps across the team this year is higher at 483 as compared to 2004 when it was only 386.
This bodes very well for Greece in that it has more experience on the pitch with young legs. So if matches go the distance, Greece is well prepared. This is also where the absence of Karagounis will hurt them in the quarters.
Additionally, the main reason I see for Greece going out is its midfield, particularly Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, that will not be able to cope with the likes of Germany and that too in the absence of Karagounis.
Other than this, I feel that the Greeks can be broken down just as Czech Republic showed in the second group game of both teams. The Czechs scored twice in the opening few minutes while exposing the frailties in the Greek defense that is not looking as solid as it did in 2004.
With the defense not as solid as in the miracle year and the attack toothless even when compared to a moderate attacking force in 2004, there is hardly reason to suspect, let alone believe, that the Greeks are going to do it again. "Lightning does not strike in the same place twice" is a cliche you can use with Greece's chances this year.
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