Two teams will battle for one spot in the 2014 World Cup as Greece take on Romania on Friday in the first match of a two-legged playoff.
Greece narrowly missed a chance to automatically qualify for Brazil during the group stage, but 25 points in 10 matches were not enough as Bosnia-Herzegovina matched them and won on a tiebreaker. Still, a perfect record against everyone else in the group secured a second-place finish.
Meanwhile, Romania had less of a chance at a group win with the Netherlands dominating the table. However, they were able to edge Hungary and Turkey with two wins in a row to grab the second spot.
Now the pair will face each other for the right to represent Europe at the World Cup. There is certain to be a lot of excitement throughout the match, so make sure you do not miss a second of the action by following this guide.
Who will win the first leg?
When: Friday, Nov. 15, at 2:45 p.m. ET; 7:45 p.m. BST
Where: Karaiskaki Stadium, Athens, Greece
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Odds (via SkyBet): Greece (Even), Romania (3-1), Draw (11-5)
Top Storyline: Will Romania Be Able to Score?
Throughout qualifying, Greece have proven to be one of the best defensive teams in the world. The back line is skillful as well as smart, and the defenders make few mistakes that could allow even a good look at the net.
This led to a streak of clean sheets that has extended to four straight qualifying matches. The group did not allow a single goal at home in five matches and only gave up four total goals in 10 contests in the round.
While Romania have talent on the attack, it is hard to imagine them getting too many opportunities to score in this match. When they do, they will have to get the ball beyond goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, who is playing as well as ever.
It is hard to win if you do not score, and Romania will have a tough time in this area on Friday.
Prediction: Greece 1, Romania 0
Greece should be able to control possession for much of the match, which will limit the touches from Ciprian Marica and other Romanian stars on the attack.
Based on the stellar defense we have seen lately, the Greeks should be able to secure yet another shutout.
On the other end, though, there are still question marks about consistency. Greece have gotten production out of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Dimitris Salpingidis lately, but they need Olympiakos star Kostas Mitroglou to come through in these big matches.
The young player should be able to create at least one goal to help take an early lead in this matchup.
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