Group Elimination A: Saturday, 16 June 2012 - Warsaw - National Stadium
It’s the Ruskies and the Greeks’ time to face off on June 16 at the Warsaw National Stadium.
Overwhelming favourites by a long shot, Russia is currently on a 12 game unbeaten streak including a 1-1 draw against Poland. They annihilated the Czech Republic during their opener with a 4-1 victory. Russia has a much better squad than all three teams within Group A and the line-up includes well-known defenders Yuri Zhirkov and AlekseiBerezutski.
Much criticism goes largely to Russia’s manager, former Dutch player Dick Advocaat who has put far too much time in developing the team’s defensive side instead of cultivating the strong goal-scoring line-up. The choice of formation and positioning will have a huge effect on the Russians’ performance as the tournament progresses. So far, not bad but a 1-1 draw with Poland proved that the team missed out on several opportunities that could have led to a swift victory.
A 1-1 draw with Poland and a 1-2 lost to the Czechs has put the Greeks in a very tight spot. Now on the 16th of June they will be facing the strongest team in Group A, the Russians. Best remembered for their outstanding performance during Euro 2004, Greece has been a fixture in recent major tournaments since then but with varying degrees of success. The Greeks did well in the qualifying stages of Euro 2012 finishing at the top of the Group F ladder above the likes of Croatia, Isreal, Latvia, Malta, and Georgia winning 7 games and have 3 draws.
However, a low tally of goals has put Greece in the category of being a mainly defensive unit. Russia has a stronger attack than the Greeks and this can put the team in a hard situation. It’s up to keyplayersGiorgiosKaragounis, the team captain have 116 caps to his name and Theofanis Gekas to put their experience and brilliance to work.
Predictions: Russia wins 1-0
In terms of individual qualities, Russia ranks much higher. They also excellent keepers, so does Greece, but they are one up on the attacking aspect. Greece has shown their best and their worst since the start of the qualifiers up to the Group stage, but sorry to say, the worst side is happening during the recent matches and Russia is by far, the superior team. But since Greece has an above average defence, let’s give the Russians only that much.
Greece can be proud of their national team after pulling off a stunning upset over the heavily favored Russian team.
With history repeating itself, it was a goal by one of their heroes from the Euro 2004 triumph captain Giorgos Karagounis that delivered victory to a country which is wilting under the pressures of the euro zone crisis with high unemployment and swingeing cuts.
Russia's despair was complete as a 72nd-minute goal by Petr Jiracek gave the Czech Republic - who were beaten by the Greeks in the Euro 2004 semi-finals - a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Poland to finish top of the table, sending both the Russians and the Poles home.
Polish coach Franciszek Smuda promptly announced that was the end of the road for him, while Russia's Dutch coach Dick Advocaat had perhaps wisely already said he was leaving for PSV Eindhoven.
Karagounis's joy at his goal was tempered later in the game by a booking that brought an anguished reaction from the 35-year-old as it means he will miss the quarter-final.
However, he reflected afterwards how much this victory meant to the wider Greek community.
"When we left Greece, we all said in one voice 'we will give everything and we will give everything when our compatriots aren't having the best of times'," said Karagounis.
"I believe that this tonight puts a smile on their faces."
For Greece's Portuguese coach Fernando Santos this victory was inspired by Greece's rich history as a country.
"What inspires us is the history of Greece," said Santos, whose 45percent pay rise before the tournament raised eyebrows.
"This is the thing that inspires me the most because the Greek people have huge pride for their tradition and history and I think respect from everyone is well deserved.
"Everyone has to respect Greeks because of their will and determination". "Greece believed in themselves when the world didn't."
EURO 2012: Greece vs Russia Timeline
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