Greece World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament
Greece's reputation at the top level of world football is not particularly acclaimed, although there is one remarkable story to be told.
Managed by Otto Rehhagel of Germany, they pulled off an extraordinary feat at Euro 2004 by winning the tournament, playing what could be described most kindly as "extremely pragmatic" football.
And while many were won over by the unlikely nature of Greece's victory, their playing style was so defensive that it was difficult for neutrals to appreciate.
They have since employed an increasingly attacking style, although in qualifying they still struggled to score goals. Whether the squad possesses enough quality to succeed where it has failed in the past—navigate the group stages of a World Cup tournament—remains to be seen.
Road to the Finals
In qualifying, Greece missed out on automatic promotion by goal difference.
Bosnia and Herzegovina topped Group G, which included Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Liechtenstein. This left Greece to face a play-off with Romania.
A comfortable 3-1 home victory over the Romanians in the first leg set Greece up for a 4-2 aggregate win, cementing an appearance in their third World Cup finals.
Had they not made it through the play-offs, they would have rued their lack of goals, with just 12 in their 10 qualifying games. They managed only a 1-0 victory over Liechtenstein, and in their equivalent fixture, Bosnia and Herzegovina won 8-1.
In the end, Greece qualified, and given their relatively few appearances at this level, to be part of Brazil 2014 is a considerable achievement.
Defenders: Vasilis Torosidis (Roma), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Kostas Manolas (Olympiakos), Vangelis Moras (Hellas Verona), Jose Holebas (Olympiakos), Georgios Tzavellas (PAOK), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiakos)
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Andreas Samaris (Olympiakos), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna)
Forwards: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK)
For more detail, please see the player-by-player guide here.
Manager Profile: Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos’ professional connection with Greece dates back to 2001 when he was appointed coach of AEK Athens. Since then, he has managed Panathinaikos, PAOK, had a return spell with AEK Athens and has had spells in his homeland, managing Sporting Club and Benfica.
Whilst he has struggled to amass silverware in Greece, a Greek Cup win with AEK Athens in 2002 is his only trophy outside Portugal; he has been voted Superleague Manager of the Year on four occasions.
His achievements lead him to being voted Manager of the Decade in Greece in 2010.
He had previously led Porto to the Portuguese league title in the 1998/99 season.
The end of Greece’s run in the 2014 World Cup will also see the end of Santos' reign as manager, per FIFA.com.
Greece have qualified for both major tournaments of Santos’ reign, the 2012 European Championships and this summer’s World Cup. Whatever happens in this tournament, it is hard not to perceive his time in charge as having been a success.
Star Man: Konstantinos 'Kostas' Mitroglou
Having been on fire in Greece, scoring 17 goals in 19 games for Olympiakos, Kostas Mitroglou appeared to have announced himself as a spectacular solution to Greece’s lack of firepower. However, his January move to Fulham has seen his career stall, and he has appeared only three times for the Cottagers.
Fulham manager Felix Magath has questioned the Greek’s fitness, per Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian.
Greek fans will be hoping that the Mitroglou on show at the World Cup represents the version of himself that was so dominant in their domestic league, rather than the one who has struggled to make an impression in England.
One to Watch: Panagiotis Kone
The Greek squad is well organised, has some fine defensive-minded players and huge amounts of commitment, but it lacks something in terms of flair.
Panagiotis Kone has not put up spectacular numbers for his club side Bologna this season, scoring five in 30 appearances and being credited with no assists.
However, the season before, he did score this incredible goal, a nominee for the 2013 FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year.
That goal was not his only spectacular effort for Bologna, as this compilation shows.
Bologna have had a difficult season and have been relegated to Serie B. However, in spite of a relatively unsuccessful domestic season, Kone's eye for something different makes him someone worth keeping an eye on.
World Cup Record
Greece's World Cup record is not good. They have reached the finals twice and have a record of 1-5 in six games.
In 1994, faced with an extremely difficult set of opponents in Nigeria, Bulgaria and Argentina, the Greeks lost 4-0 to both Bulgaria and Argentina and 2-0 to Nigeria. Their failure to score a single goal left them with a goal differential of minus-10.
Things improved slightly in 2010 when Greece managed to record their first win at a World Cup.
Drawn with Argentina and Nigeria again, this time with South Korea rounding out the group, Greece lost their opener to South Korea 2-0. Then, they managed to defeat Nigeria 2-1 with Vasilis Torosidis and Dimitris Salpingidis scoring the only goals in their nation's World Cup finals history. Both men have made the squad this time around and will be looking to increase their tally.
No one who made an appearance for Greece in the 1994 World Cup appeared again in 2010, meaning there are a number of players who are likely to break the appearance record this time out.
Group Stage Fixtures
14 June 2014: Greece v Colombia, Belo Horizonte
19 June 2014: Greece v Japan, Natal
24 June 2014: Greece v Cote D'Ivoire, Fortaleza
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