World Cup 2014: Greece Preview - can they recreate their Euro 2004 miracle?

Greece players celebrate

Greece aren't expected to challenge at this summer's World Cup, but they weren't at Euro 2004 either. What beckons for the Greeks in Brazil?

After coming through a playoff against Romania, Greece booked their tickets to Brazil, but were handed a tough draw. Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan all possess star power in attack, and whilst Greece's defence is their calling card, they will be put to the test in Group C. Here is your in-depth preview on the Greeks...

The perception

A dull, defensive side who won't be causing too many problems. Fondly remembered as 'the team that somehow won Euro 2004', Greece will set up to keep things tight and hope to nick games by a goal. Seen as a sturdy and plucky outfit by most, Greece don't strike fear into the hearts of anyone.

The reality

Probably somewhere close to the perception. The side has added some more attacking firepower in recent years, as midfielders Giannis Fetfatzidis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos are joined by Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou. Despite this, there are many of the old guard still there, and it would be all but impossible for them to repeat their Euro 2004 miracle.

Strengths

Fernando Santos' side are hard-working and committed, which can make them tricky opponents at times. Led by Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, the Greeks conceded just four goals in qualifying and it's their solid defence which be relied upon most heavily in Brazil this summer.

Weaknesses

A lack of creativity. Sotiris Ninis has been left out of the squad, meaning there appears to be few attacking players in the midfield. Just 12 goals were scored by the Greeks in qualifying, and with 37-year-old Giorgos Karagounis and 34-year-old Kostas Katsouranis, it's unlikely that the Greeks will be dynamic – again.

Star Player

This is hard to pinpoint. In normal circumstances, striker Mitroglou would be the key to Greece's hopes, but a torrid six-month spell with Fulham has the 26-year-old struggling for form and fitness. If he can rediscover his goalscoring touch, then he is the main man in the Greek attack. If not, then they will require strong defensive displays from Papastathopoulos.

One to Watch

In a team generally devoid of attacking talent, 23-year-old Giannis Fetfatzidis could make an impact. The former Olympiacos starlet has been featuring heavily for Serie A side Genoa this season, and could provide Greece with the creative spark that they need if given the chance. A skilful and diminutive playmaker, Fetfatzidis should feature prominently.

Verdict

Greece are still relying on some of the players that led them to Euro 2004 glory, and the lack of attacking talent will make it incredibly tough for them to make it out of Group C. Their best hopes lie with sturdy defensive displays and – hopefully – a return to form for Mitroglou. If manager Santos gets neither of these, then they will be staring at a group stage exit.

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