Greece - Czech Republic Preview: Bilek's men looking to bounce back from Russia mauling
Coming into this game on the back of a heroic comeback against Poland, Fernando Santos' men will be hoping for three points as they aim to qualify from Group A
By Vasil Kotsev
Torossidis, Papadopoulos, Malezas, Holebas
Maniatis, Katsouranis, Karagounis
Salpingidis, Gekas, Samaras
Gebre Selassie, Kadlec, Hubnik, Sivok
Plasil, Pilar, Jiracek
Greece coach Fernando Santos has plenty of problems ahead of the clash with the Czech Republic as his first-choice central defensive pairing of Avraam Papadopoulos (knee) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (suspended) are unavailable for the match, with the former ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopolous is expected to slot in for the banned Werder Bremen man, while PAOK's Stelios Malezas is set to deputise for the injured Olympiakos star. Following his blistering cameo against Poland, Dimitris Salpangidis should be handed a start ahead of Sotiris Ninis.
Michal Bilek is unlikely to make major changes to his starting XI, despite the 4-1 trashing at the hands of Euro 2008 semi-finalists Russia. Tomas Hubschman could replace Jan Rezek in the centre of the pitch, while Tomas Pekhart and Tomas Necid are in with a chance to make appearances from the bench.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Greece coach Fernando Santos made his debut in a major tournament finals against Poland.
- Dimitris Salpingidis racked up his fifth international goal in less than a year on matchday one. He netted two strikes less in the six years prior to his current run.
- Kostas Chalkias, 38, is the oldest player at Euro 2012.
- Jose Holebas, who was born in Germany to a Greek father and an Uruguayan mother, made his debut in an official game for the Ethniki against Poland.
- Czech Republic have an overwhelming advantage in their clashes with Greece as they have claimed five wins, one draw and suffered defeat just once.
- The last time the two sides met, however, the Ethniki emerged winners, booking a place in the final of Euro 2004, courtesy of a 1-0 victory.
- Czech Republic's 4-1 loss to Russia was the heaviest in the team's history at a major international tournament since the 4-1 defeat to Brazil in World Cup 1970.
- Michal Bilek's men netted just 12 goals in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2012, the lowest of all finalists.
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Top 3 Predictions
Greece 1-2 Czech Republic
- 17.55 %
Greece 2-1 Czech Republic
- 12.49 %
Greece 1-1 Czech Republic
- 11.35 %
|Euro 2012 (EC)||12 Jun 2012||Greece 1 - Czech Republic 2|
|19 Nov 2013||Romania 1 - Greece 1||WCQE|
|15 Nov 2013||Greece 3 - Romania 1||WCQE|
|15 Oct 2013||Greece 2 - Liechtenstein 0||WCQE|
|11 Oct 2013||Greece 1 - Slovakia 0||WCQE|
|10 Sep 2013||Greece 1 - Latvia 0||WCQE|
|2||Theodor Gebre Selassie||Defender|
The skipper will be keen to make amends for missing a penalty in the opener, and will hope for a better performance against the Czech Republic. Look out for his superb technique and unstoppable long-range strikes.
The Czech Republic's standout player from the loss to Russia, Pilar will be everyone's favourite to shine against Greece. The midfielder has made a big leap in his career in the last year, and the next logical step for him is to become one of the national team's leaders. A game-winning performance against Greece will go a long way towards achieving this goal.
While the Greek defence will be severely weakened by the absence of Papadopoulos and Papastathopoulos, the Czech are unlikely to bounce back right away from their defeat to Russia. A draw may not be to the liking of either team, but both will probably have to settle for a point apiece.