Finally after after missing the three previous World Cups Greece qualified for South Africa after beating Ukraine in one of Europe's eight team playoff. Otto Reghhegal's men have been drawn into Group B in the Cup along with South Korea, Nigeria and Argentina. With everyone expected to battle for second to Argentina, Greece will begin its campaign against South Korea on Saturday June 12.
King Otto Reghhegal having earned the nickname after guiding Greece in their first major Championship at Euro 2004. The defensive minded guru will not shock teams in South Africa but don't be surprised if this team makes it out of the group stage and advances to the quarterfinal stages.
Greece will employ all types of formations, so don't look for a set lineup while in the tourney. Formations vary from a 5-1-2-2 to a conventional 4-4-2 to a more aggressive 4-3-3 all depending upon who they are facing.
The Greeks will be a mix of veterans and several key youngsters that will see plenty of action. There are a few hold overs from the 2004 winning team but most of that team has retired from international football.
Goalkeepers:(age) (bold my starters)
Alexandros Tzorvas (27) Panathinaikos
Greece's and Pana's #1 after 2009 season. Won league double in 2009-2010 season. Not many caps on the international level (6) but has earned the #1 through his play.
Costas Chalkias (35) POAK
One of the holdovers from 2004 Euro team and former #1 for Greece. Didn't get any playing time in 2004.
Michalis Sifikias (25) Aris
Will battle for playing time if Tzorvas struggles in the two remaining friendlies before the World Cup. A regular for Greece's under 21 team has only one cap for the big boys.
Loukas Vyntra (29), Nikos Spyropoulos (26), Giourkas Seitaridis (28) Panathinaikos
Sseitaridis is a regular for Greece is healthy. Having played for several clubs including Athletico Madrid before returning Giourkas has always been a favorite of Rehhagal.
Vyntra will see action as one of the central defenders in Rehhagal system. Vyntra was on Greece 2008 Euro team that didn't get out of the group stage.
Spyropoulos is a wing defender with very good crossing ability. Always looking to move forward at a fault will have a hard time getting on the field.
Avraam Papadopoulos (26), Vasilis Torosidis (24), Georgios Galiatsios (23) Olympiacos
Both will see plenty of action in the World Cup. Papadopoulos has been steady for Olympiacos in the central of their defense. Torosidis struggled with injury in 2009 but if healthy will see a role at either a right back or a defensive midfielder. Torosidis has been linked to a few major teams in the transfer market and could possible move if he has a successful World Cup.
Galiatsios will serve as a backup here. Played very well for Olympiacos and earned a call up to National team for friendly against Senegal.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos (30) Liverpool, Vangelis Moras (28) Bologna, Sokraits Papastathopoulos (21) Genoa
Kyrgiakos will have the role of trying to keep the oppositions' best player in check. A tall physical central defender has been a mainstay for Greece since 2005. A well traveled player with stops at PAO, Rangers, Eintracht Frankfurt, AEK Athens and now Liverpool.
Moras is a recent addition to the national team making his debut in 2009. Moras has been a regular for his club team and will most likely be teamed with Kyrgiakos in central defense for Greece
Papastathopoulos is one of Greece's fast rising players. At the age of 21 he will have a hard time to crack this lineup but will gain valuable experience learning at this level.
Georgos Karagounis (32), Kostas Katsouranis (30) Sotiris Ninis (21) Panathinaikos
Karagounis is the heart and soul of Greece. The captain leads this team in all faces and is a excellent free kick taker. Georgos has played for PAO, InterMilan, Benfica before returning to PAO to end his career.
Katsouranis will be a defensive midfielder for Greece in the World Cup. Having played for AEK, Benfica, and PAO. Joins Karagounis as members of 2004 Euro championship team.
Sotiris Ninis is dubbed the future of Greek Football. The 21 year old has been linked to many of the big clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal, and Barcellona. Ninis dominated at the under 19 level winning the best player in Euro under 19 2007 tournament. I look for Ninis to come off the bench and play a key role in adding speed to an aggressive counterattacking team.
Alexandros Tziolis (25) Sienna, Grigoiris Makos (23)
Tziolis had a hard time getting playing time for PAO before finding time for the Siere A squad. Tziolis has played for Werder Bremen in Germany in 2009 and help them get to the Europa Cup final.
Makos is another new addtion to the National team. Grigoris was the under 21 captain for Greece and played in several of Greece's qualification matches leading to the World Cup.
Theofanis Gekas (29) Hertha, Giorgios Samaras (25) Celtic, Angelos Charisteas (30) Nuremberg
Gekas was Europe's leading goal scorer in qualifying matches. Theofanis has been the leading goal scorer in both Greece and in Germany. The small quick forward is dangerous inside the box. Will be the focus of attention by the opposition.
Samaras is streaky goal scorer. Now with Celtic after a short and disappointing spell in Manchester City Giorgios has scored 25 goals in 40 appearances for Celtic. Samaras is a fine passer too with a highlight set up to help Greece qualify for Euro 2008 vs Turkey.
Charisteas is another holdover from 2004. Having scored the winning goal vs Portugal in 2004 Angelos has struggled with fitness and playing time in Germany. Now playing for Nuremberg after stops in Bayer Leverkusen, Ajax, Feyenoord. The tall lanky forward is great with headers and using his body to create space.
Pantelis Kapetanos (26) Steaua Bucuresti, Kostas Mitroglou (22) Olympiacos Dmitiri Salpagidis (28) Panathinaikos
Kapetanos is yet another newcomer to the squad earning his first call up against Senegal in March. Romania's top goal scorer has scored in half of his appearances for Steaua.
Mitroglou was Olympiacos leading goal scorer in all competitions with 14. Having to wait his turn Kostas seized his opportunity when it came with 2 goals against arch rival Panathinaikos. No stranger to the National team with 16 under 21 appearances netting 5 goals.
Salpagidis rounds out the strikers. The veteran of striker can play a variety of rolls for Greece and drop back to the midfield as well. Having scored the winning goal to get Greece to the Cup against Ukraine, Dimitri has added 7 goals for PAO during the season.
My starting eleven:
Tzorvas, Seitaridis, Moras, Kyrgiakos, Papadopoulos, Torosidis (Midfield), Katsouranis, Karagounis (captain), Samaras, Kapetanos, Gekas
With a mix of veterans and young players I look for Greece to finish second in Group B to Argentina and advance to the round of 16. Sotoris Ninis will provide Greece a spark off the bench. His speed and passing will allow Gekas and Samaras to become better finishers and aid Greece in progressing.
Results: Tie with South Korea 1-1, Win over Nigeria 2-0 and TIE with Argentina 0-0 (sorry all you fans of Nigeria and Korea but the game will mean nothing to Argentina and Greece will take the tie to advance)
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