Romania vs. Greece: Prediction, Preview and Key Battles

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

ATHENS, GREECE - OCTOBER 15:  Giorgos Samaras of Greece controls the ball during the group G FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Greece and Liechtenstein at Karaiskakis Stadium on October 15, 2013 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

Greece took a giant stride toward World Cup 2014 with a 3-1 first-leg win over Romania in Friday's play-off.

Konstantinos Mitroglou continued his fine scoring form, registering a brace for the hosts, while Dimitrios Salpingidis also found the net. 

Bogdan Stancu scored a loan riposte for the Romanians, who also had Costin Lazar sent off.

The result leaves Victor Piturca's side on the brink of elimination and in need of a rousing response on home soil.

Here's a look ahead to that second leg, along with a few key battles.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 26:  Bogdan Stancu of Romania in action during the Group 4 FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Netherlands and Romania at Amsterdam Arena on March 26, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Ge
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

What: World Cup play-off, second leg

Who: Romania vs. Greece

Where: National Arena, Bucharest

When: Tuesday, November 19

Start: 9 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. GMT

Dorin Goian vs. Konstantinos Mitroglou

The absence of Vlad Chiriches is a huge blow for Romania, who looked hesitant at the back throughout the first leg.

Without the Tottenham defender, who is sidelined by a broken nose, the responsibility falls on the experienced Dorin Goian, who struggled to contain Konstantinos Mitroglou on Friday.

The Greek striker is in the form of his life this season, with 20 goals in 19 games for club and country. His presence and the lack of Chiriches makes a Greek away goal increasingly likely.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Konstantinos Mitroglou of Greece in action during the International friendly match between Ireland and Greece at the Aviva Stadium on November 14, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Gabriel Torje vs. Jose Holebas

Romania have no choice but to attack in numbers and will rely on Espanyol's Gabriel Torje for the bulk of their creativity.

Up against him should be Jose Holebas at left-back, who did well to suppress his influence on Friday, although it was Torje's final ball that provided Romania with their goal.

Holebas will look to restrict his space and limit his opportunities to deliver, while Torje will hope to pepper the penalty area with crosses.

Ciprian Marica vs. Sokratis Papastathopoulos

For Romania to secure an unlikely triumph, they need to find their scoring boots. Ciprian Marica boasts an impressive scoring record at international level and will be tasked with finding the net in this key tie.

ATHENS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 06:  Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece lines up ahead of the International Friendly match between Greece and Switzerland at Karaiskakis Stadium on February 6, 2013 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Aiming to stop him will be Borussia Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who kept Greece's back four organised during the first tie.

Both are strong players, formidable in the air, who should be jostling with each other throughout this game.

Prediction

Despite the two-goal difference, an early strike puts this match back in the balance, thanks to Romania's away goal in Greece.

What detracts from the host's chances is how easily the Greeks carved them open on Friday. Greece have enough fire-power to score again, which will leave Romania with too much to do.

Romania 1-1 Greece (Greece qualify 4-2 on aggregate)

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