Greek National Football Team (epo.gr)

World Cup Brazil: Greek National Football Team Preview

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{Portes Magazine celebrates the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil in support of  the Greek National Football Team. Read our preview of Greece’s position in the game.}

by Chris Blake

Qualifying for a second straight World Cup, and just its third ever, is a feat in itself for the Greek National Football Team. But placed in a group with no clear favorite, the Greeks have a better opportunity to reach the Round of 16 in Brazil than they did four years ago in South Africa.

Matched against Colombia, Japan, and the Ivory Coast in Group C, the Greeks stand their best chance to move past the group stage this time around. In its first World Cup appearance in 1994, Greece had not scored a goal, and it took another 16 years before Greece finally scored its first goal and achieved a victory in the World Cup South Africa, in 2010.

The Greek team qualified for the 2014 World Cup only after it beat Romania in a two-match playoff by an aggregate score of 4-2, in which striker Kostas Mitroglou netted three goals. Despite a three goal outburst in the first leg of the playoff in Athens, Greece remains a defense-minded team and will likely deploy a 4-3-3. It let in just four goals in 10 qualifying games, three of which came in one match.

While stout defense will be its strongest asset, Greece has to find a way to score more often. Striker Mitroglou was thought to be one of the last men to make the squad, but also serves as the most electric weapon for manager Fernando Santos. The 26-year-old Mitroglou left Olympiakos for Fulham in January and struggled, seeing time in just two matches.

While not likely to find the back of the net with great frequency, captain Giorgos Karagounis will be key in setting up Mitroglou with scoring chances. Karagounis, who was released by Fulham after the 2013-14 season, is the most capped player in the history of the national team.

Manager Santos has already announced his plans to step down after the World Cup and speculation about his replacement has served as a distraction. The Greek Football Federation made an attempt at quieting the rumors by releasing the following statement.

”On the subject of our new coach, EPO announces that we are currently in ongoing discussions with candidates for the post. So far nothing has reached any conclusion. Any official announcements from the federation on this issue will be made after the World Cup in Brazil.

Greek media reported that Claudio Ranieri and Martin Jol are potential candidates. Ranieri is an Italian who has managed Inter Milan and Roma, while Jol is the former boss of Tottenham and Fulham in the Premier League.

Greece will play Colombia June 14 at 1:00 PM, Japan June 19 at 7:00 PM and Ivory Coast June 24 at 5:00 PM local time. For updates and more information follow the Greek Team.