Greece has officially filled its managerial void by hiring veteran boss Claudio Ranieri to lead the national team through Euro 2016. He replaces Fernando Santos, whose stint came to an end after the Ethniki were eliminated in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup.
UEFA's Euro 2016 account confirmed the hire and noted the sides had agreed to a two-year deal:
Interestingly, Ranieri has made more than a dozen stops during his time as a manager, which dates back nearly three decades, but he has never been the head coach of a national team. He has coached some top European clubs, including Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan.
What's your opinion of the Ranieri hire for Greece?
His most recent stop came at Monaco. He spent two seasons with the Ligue 1 side, leading them to a second-place finish and a Champions League berth this past campaign. Despite that success, he was still let go at season's end.
Now, he takes over a Greece side that hasn't advanced beyond the quarterfinals in the European Championship since shocking the field to win the 2004 tournament.
Chris Paraskevas of ESPN FC passed along comments from the 62-year-old Italian boss, who confirmed he had other options but liked what he heard from Greece:
Ranieri: "I had other recommendations. But I had a good feeling once I met the (Greek FA) president." #Greece— Chris Paraskevas (@Cparaskevas) July 25, 2014
The Ethniki are of course known for their traditionally defensive style of play. They scored just seven goals in six matches en route to the Euro title a decade ago. They had only three goals in four fixtures at this year's World Cup.
Ranieri is unlikely to lead a major overhaul to the approach, but getting the side to generate more chances is key to his success. As WhoScored.com points out, the use of through balls will probably be one thing he preaches to the squad:
Monaco: Only Barcelona & Liverpool played more through balls than Monaco did under Claudio Ranieri (158) in Europe's top 5 leagues 2013/14— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 25, 2014
Many international squads prefer to work around World Cup cycles, but Greece is taking a more conservative route with a two-year deal. If there's notable progress made leading up to the European Championships, an extension for an additional two years is likely.
Ranieri obviously doesn't lack experience, but this is a new venture for him. It will be interesting to see whether he tries to make any major changes or simply tries to build off the foundation in place and improve on it.
Greece begins qualification for Euro 2016 on Sept. 7 against Romania.