5 Things for Greece Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Draw vs. Japan
Greece managed a respectable draw against Japan on Friday, meaning their hopes of qualification from Group C have not yet ended.
If they beat Cote d'Ivoire on Tuesday, they will qualify—assuming Japan do not manage to beat Colombia. In any case, neither Japan beating Colombia nor Greece beating Cote d'Ivoire seem particularly likely results, but stranger things have happened.
Whether or not results go their way, there is plenty for fans of the Greek national team to look forward to.
Let's take a look at five of them.
Attacking with Nothing to Lose Against Cote d'Ivoire
Expectations should be quite low as Greece head into their final fixture. They know that nothing other than a win will do.
Whilst Greece probably do not have the personnel at their disposal to set up in completely gung-ho fashion, they can play without fear and should line up with more attacking intent than they have done so far.
Although the quality of Cote d'Ivoire's forward players will worry the Ethniki, and there will still be importance placed on retaining defensive solidity, their players should have license to have some fun in their final group game.
Hopefully the fans will, too.
A Younger, Potentially More Dynamic Side
Looking further ahead, and assuming Greece do not make it out of the group, there are interesting times on the horizon.
Fernando Santos will be stepping down at the end of this campaign, and it seems a good bet that Kostas Katsouranis and Giorgos Karagounis will be leaving the international stage.
Fanis Gekas and Dimitris Salpingidis are also reaching the latter part of their careers.
With the old guard goes a great deal of experience, and the links to the Euro 2004 winning side are being severed, but this change does offer the opportunity for younger players to prove themselves.
With those younger players may come a more dynamic style, which could offer fans a taste of a different kind of football.
Whilst the past decade has been the most successful in Greece's history, there have been times when it has been difficult to watch. An influx of new blood may be just what is needed.
Years of a Settled Central Defensive and Goalkeeping Triumvirate
One area where change is not needed is at the heart of Greece's defence. The triumvirate of Orestis Karnezis in goal, and Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in central defence would appear to be a core that can continue for some time to come.
Karnezis is 29, Papastathopoulos 26 and Manolas just 23 years old. Barring injury, they should each have several good years ahead of them.
It is clear that they have the quality to perform together at a high level, and whoever takes over from Santos will be pleased to have one fewer selection headache, given that this area of the pitch is well taken care of.
Qualification for Euro 2016
Greece's draw for Euro 2016 qualification appears relatively favourable. Drawn in Group F, Greece will face Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands. With the expansion of the number of participants in the finals, two teams will qualify directly from the group.
A third will either qualify automatically, if they are the highest ranking third-placed team from across the group stage, or they will be entered into a play-off against other third-placed sides.
Whilst qualification is not a formality, the combination of format and draw means that Greece fans can afford to be cautiously optimistic about their chances, and another major finals could be in the offing.
Playing at Home Again
Greece's home form during World Cup qualification was remarkable. The 10 games played at the Karaiskakis Stadium did not see the Piratiko concede a single goal.
The atmosphere at the ground may be part of the reason for this, and seeing the team play at home is certainly something for supporters to savour.
The fans that made the trip to Brazil have displayed passionate and committed support, and being able to do so in much larger numbers, much nearer home, will be welcomed.
If the team can once again make the Karaiskakis a fortress, there will be much to celebrate and much to look forward to.