Perhaps the citizens of Greece should demand that their national soccer team be allowed to run the country. After all, unlike the Greek government, the members of Ethniki Ellados appear to actually be able to accomplish something.
Eight years after shocking the world of soccer by winning Euro 2004, the Greeks are on another magical run after upsetting Russia 1-0 to advance to the knockout stage of UEFA Euro 2012.
Unfortunately, the Greek side will all but certainly be one of the first countries knocked out of the knockout round. Greece has drawn the unenviable task of trying to defeat a German side that emerged from Group B play with a spotless 3-0-0 record.
There are any of number of reasons why calling Greece's match with Germany an "uphill battle" for the Greeks is something of an understatement.
First, there's the small fact that the Germans are presently riding a 14-game winning streak in competitive international fixtures, which is a team record. The Germans are also a perfect 5-0 in quarterfinal matches at the European Championships. In fact, each time the Germans have advanced to this point in the past, the team has gone on to the final.
Not only must Greece overcome Germany's historical success in the knockout stage of this tournament, but Greek coach Fernando Santos will be trying to do something that no Greek national coach has ever done—beat Germany in international competition.
In eight previous meetings against Die Mannschaft, the Greeks have lost five times with three draws. That's a daunting record to overcome. However, Greek forward Dimitris Salpigidis recently told Sports Illustrated that defeating the Germans is far from an impossible task. In fact, he and his teammates are confident they can pull yet another rabbit out of their collective hats.
I don't think anyone on the team believes this will be our last game at this tournament. People have so many problems in their everyday lives. We're really hoping that we can put a smile on their face.'
Unfortunately for Greece, not only will they be playing a superior team, they'll be doing so without several of their top players while the Germans will be getting one back.
Defender Jerome Boateng will return for Germany after serving a one-game ban and take over at right-back for Lars Bender. Meanwhile, the Greeks will be without the services of captain Giorgos Karagounis and Jose Holebas. who are suspended. Goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias is also nursing a hamstring injury.
Just making it to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 has been a huge morale boost for a Greek nation searching desperately for any sort of good news during very troubled times. However, unless the truly miraculous happens on Friday and Greece stuns the soccer world yet again, that diversion will have ended, and Greece's Cinderella run at Euro 2012 will be over.