Euro 2012: Greece scouting report
Fernando Santos leads Greece into this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament in a calm yet confident mood.
After topping their qualifying group unbeaten and winning seven of its 10 matches, the Portuguese manager has gone for a balanced squad selection by nestling youngsters in with experienced campaigners.
Santos, 57, has spent 7 of the last 9 seasons in Greece managing 3 of the 4 biggest clubs in the country and is considered a connoisseur of Greek domestic football.
In a recent press conference, the manager admitted that Ethniki can’t boast a star-man equivalent of Lionel Messi in their team, instead declaring: “It’s tactics first and quality second, then team spirit, experience in high-profile matches and versatility.”
The last 5 players to score for the Greek national team have been over 30-years-old, proving that experience is still crucial when it comes to international football.
However, Santos’ balanced squad selection is somewhat interesting with several youngsters – Costas Fortounis, Yiannis Fetfatzidis and Kyriakos Papdopoulos – being included on the roster.
Greece play Armenia and Slovenia in warm-up matches this month before taking on Euro 2012 opponents Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic in Group A.
Greece in Euro 2012:
Key Man: Sotiris Ninis – Even Santos himself has admitted prior to the tournament that Ninis is vital to Greece’s Euro 2012 hopes.
“I’m counting on [Ninis] up front. He’s an attack-minded player and has skills that others lack. We can play him on the left and right, he’s good one-on-one with opponents, and he’s versatile.”
One To Watch: Kyriakos Papadopoulos – The young Schalke defensive stalwart has been scouted by several European heavyweights including Arsenal and Real Madrid following excellent displays in the Bundesliga.
Surprise Inclusion: Kostas Chalkias – Portsmouth fans will remember this goalkeepers name for all the wrong reasons. His inconsistent performances have been lambasted in the past and so has his selection. Despite only playing half of PAOK’s matches this season, Chalkias has been picked over Panathinaikos starlet Orestis Karnezis who Santos believes “isn’t ready for such a big competition yet.”
Surprise Omission: Stefanos Athanasiadis – After an impressive season with PAOK, and netting 17 goals in the process, Athanasiadis will be disappointed to see veteran AEK striker Nikos Liberopoulos ahead of him. It could be a decision which Santos will later regret if Athanasiadis’ recent form is to go by.
Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris Thessaloniki FC), Kostas Chalkias (PAOK FC), Alexandros Tzorvas (US Città di Palermo).
Defenders: Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos FC), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke 04), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (SV Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos FC), José Holebas (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Tzavellas (AS Monaco FC), Stelios Malezas (PAOK FC).
Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK FC), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens FC), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiacos FC), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos FC), Alexandros Tziolis (AS Monaco FC), Kostas Fortounis (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna FC).
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic FC), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor), Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK Athens FC), Kostas Mitroglou (Atromitos FC).Tagged in: euro 2012, football, greece
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