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World Cup 2010: Greece Profile

Coach: Otto Rehhagel
Confederation: UEFA
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10): 12
Previous Appearances: 1 (1994,)

                                                      Background

Until 2001, Greece had just two appearances in the finals of a major tournament. The first was in the European Champions of 1980 and the second in the 1994 World Cup. And then the unexpected happened... Otto Rehhagel took over as the team's coach, first completely transforming its style, attitude and mentality and then leading it to the most sensational achievement in football's history. The Euro 2004 triumph. In 2008, he added a third Euro appearance under Greece's belt and now the team faces a second World Cup challenge after a disastrous tournament sixteen years ago. Back then Greece exited the tournament with two 4-0 defeats and a less harsh 2-0 setback.

                                                 How They Qualified

Despite being drawn in a rather easy group, Greece had to fight hard their way to South Africa. The Greeks finished second in Group B of the UEFA zone, behind of Switzerland (to which Greece suffered defeats both home and away) and earned a World Cup spot by beating Ukraine in a two-legged play-off. Greee slumped to a scoreless draw in Athen in the first leg before Dimitris Salpingidis' goal in Donetsk sent Greece to South Africa.

                                                        Strengths

Greece have been accused as being one of the most boring and anti-football teams ever but their biggest strength lies in its solid defence. With two centre-backs and a libero, Otto Rehhagel revived in 2004 the old-fashioned but always effective catenaccio style. He was proved right...

                                                      Weaknesses

When it comes to creative football, Greece suffers greatly. The only attacking plan is to wait for a set piece so someone can jump to the ball and send it home. Otherwise, don't expect any rational attempts with the ball down the pitch.

                                                           Coach

Otto Rehhagel became again the 'Rehhakles' of Euro 2004 after he won yet another qualification for the Greek team in the finals of a major tournament. The German coach is definitely the most successful manager with the most unlikely squads, leading all the underdogs to top honors. The whole Greek national team is his own creation and the players look up to him as a father figure. This World Cup will most probably be his swan song as a coach.

                                              Star Men

Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos)

The natural leader of the team. A stubborn midfielder, who knows how to keep the ball and be the perfect playmaker in the big games. Without him, Greece's midfield most likely will have no real strength.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Liverpool)

The only Greek player in a top-class team. A strong defender, earned the nickname 'Highlander' after playing for Rangers and due to his long hair. He is very unlikely to get beaten when the ball comes in the air or in a personal challenge.

Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos)

Rehhagel doesn't trust him yet. He has used him only a few times. However, no doubt he is the most talented and promising Greek players. He will definitely be in Greece's squad and if he is given the chance, he will shine.


 

                                            Best Footballing Moment

The Euro 2004 victory. In Greece, this success seems still feels like a good dream and a sign that anything is possible.

                                                      Off The pitch

Famous for: the strange and kind of unique 'Greek reality' habits that can see the players staying awake all night before a major game, drinking coffee!

Most likely to: be dearly welcomed by the strong Greek community of South Africa. The local leaders have said to be with the national team all the way to the final...

                                                World Cup Objective

No one will be expecting a Euro 2004-like success story. Advancing from the group stage will be just great.