Samaras: Greece team focused on football, not politics

Celtic forward says the Ethniki are so focused on their quarter-final with Germany that they are paying no attention to their country's economic crisis back home
Celtic and Greece forward Georgios Samaras insists that his team are so focused ahead of tomorrow's semi-final with Germany that they are paying no attention to their country's economic crisis.

Fernando Santos' team defied the odds to qualify as runners-up in Group D, after Giorgos Karagounis' strike against a much-fancied Russia booked them a place in the last eight and helped to bring together a nation in crisis.

Debt-crippled Greece face Joachim Low's unbeaten side in front of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Gdansk on Friday evening, just days after a general election which attempted to solve Greece's five-year recession and keep them in the Eurozone.
14/1 Georgios Samaras is 14/1 with Paddy Power to score the first goal when Greece meet Germany on Friday.

But Samaras, whose namesake Antonis is the Prime Minister, insisted that football and politics do not mix.

"What's going on between Greece and Germany politics wise – I really don't care," he told CNN World Sport.

"The only thing we're going to do is go on the pitch, enjoy the game and the best team are going to win.

"It has a meaning for sure, but we as footballers need to stay out of this story and stay focused on the football game only."

The Greek press have been in overdrive since the Ethniki progressed from Group A and the Greek tourist board reportedly asked TV networks to keep the crowd volume down amidst fears that the German national anthem would be greeted by jeers from the Greece fans.

However, whilst Samaras did concede that the game does have special connotations, he is confident that the positive atmosphere in the Greek camp can help them spring a surprise just like they did in Euro 2004.

"We're a family, we help each other," he added.

"We don’t have personal egos in the team, we don’t have a superstar. It’s so strong – that we care about each other outside the pitch - that’s going on the pitch and that's I think the strength we have as a team.

"We don’t play for ourselves or for the money. We play for the national team, we play for history and for the 11 million people back home and I want to give to them a smile."