Greece relishes underdog role against Russia
Greece players are relishing the role of underdog against Russia
in their final group game at Euro 2012 and believe they can pull
off an upset on Saturday.
Bottom of Group A after a draw with Poland and a defeat by the
Czech Republic, Greece now has to beat group leader Russia to
It’s not a task that fazes the players.
”It’s very good to be the outsider and we have to advantage of
this,” said striker Costas Mitroglou, who played the last 20
minutes against the Czechs, before a training session on
”We have to go in strong from the first minute, do what the
coach says and, with a bit of luck, we’ll get the win.”
Greek players have often been inspired by being the outsiders,
having stunned the football world eight years ago to win the
Like Mitroglou, midfielder Costas Fortounis believes that Greece
can turn a difficult situation to their advantage.
”This is a final for us and I think the pressure of this game
will make all the boys give their best and we’ll get the
qualification (for the quarterfinals),” the 19-year-old Fortounis
However, Russia was the only team to beat Greece in that 2004
tournament and it defeated them again at Euro 2008.
Greece will also have to cope with two absentees on
Central defender Avraam Papadopoulos and first-choice goalkeeper
Costas Chalkias will both miss the match due to injury, but valued
defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos will return from suspension.
Coach Fernando Santos has publicly complained that his players
lost concentration at the start of their first two matches. Greece
conceded in the 17th minute against Poland in a tournament opener
that ended 1-1, and allowed the Czechs to score twice in the first
six minutes before that game ended 2-1.
Greece had trouble containing fast Polish and Czech wingers,
while Santos’ decision to start with three strikers in each game
has so far failed to produce a major threat to opponents.
Russia hammered the Czech Republic 4-1 before then being held
1-1 by co-host Poland – a result that gave Fortounis hope of an
upset on Saturday.
”We’ve seen both of Russia’s games. For sure, they weren’t as
strong in the second game as the first,” Fortounis said. ”I do
think our chances to go through are very good.”