The clinical target man was deadly in the Champions League for Olympiakos, scoring a hat-trick against Anderlecht in the group stage. He scored three times for the Greeks in the World Cup playoff with Romania, which they took 4-2 on aggregate. But since his pricey winter transfer to Fulham, worth some $20 million, Mitroglou has hardly played under new manager Felix Magath, apparently because of fitness issues. He will have to rediscover his sharpness this summer.
Getty ImagesJamie McDonald
Democracy, math, astronomy, philosophy, architecture and theatre – Greek inventions, all. But soccer? The Greeks haven’t had a whole lot to do with that, certainly not at the world stage, although they did win a fluky Euro 2004. Greece didn’t make it to a World Cup until 1994, after 12 failed qualifying campaigns. And in the USA, they lost all three games by a combined 10-0 score. In 2010, they won their first game, but lost the other two and went home after the group stage anyway.
AFP/Getty ImagesDANIEL GARCIA
Historically, the Greeks are aesthetes. They invented that word, after all. So it should hardly surprise you that the unsightly soccer their national team plays doesn’t interest their countrymen much. The last game they played, a friendly they lost to South Korea 2-0 at home, drew just 7,000 Greece supporters in spite of being played in Piraeus, a subdivision of Athens. In fact, the Greek team has never drawn very well, even though several clubs in the capital, like Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, thrive and bring in many tens of thousands to some of their games. There’s a certain apathy – Hey, another Greek word! -- that surrounds this team, and given its lack of flair or stars, that’s hardly surprising. Even head coach Fernando Santos seems bored with them, refusing to renew his contract, which expires after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Action ImagesTony O'Brien
How they got here
Slowly, tediously and defensively, the Greeks have but one tactical mindset: defend like hell and hope for an 89th-minute breakaway. That’s how they backed their way into the Euro 2004 trophy, after all. Greece ended level on points with Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group G. They posted an 8-1-1 record, in spite of scoring just 12 times in 10 qualifiers -- including two games against laughable Liechtenstein. That’s because they conceded just four goals, tied for the fewest in Europe. Bosnia had a better goal difference, so Greece was relegated into the playoffs. Against Romania, they suddenly began scoring, winning 4-2 on aggregate.
Action Images / ReutersRADU SIGHETI
Peachy. The Greeks landed in Group C along with Colombia, the Ivory Coast and Japan. The Colombians are the clear favorites there but the race for second place is really wide open, which is about all the weak Greeks might have hoped for: a chance. Beat one team and tie the other and they could well go through.
AFP/Getty ImagesNELSON ALMEIDA
Round of 16 prospects
Bleak. The Group C winners face the Group D runners-up and vice versa. Either way, it should be game over for the Greeks, as they’d likely face England, Italy or Uruguay, all of whom are vastly superior sides.
Action ImagesSteven Paston
Before the draw, you would have assumed that Greece would crash out in the first round, having won no glory. But, annoyingly, they drew so favorably that they may well advance, inflicting the immeasurable boredom of their games onto the viewer for another round. Thankfully, there exists no chance that they will mar our summer longer than the round of 16.