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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos), Orestis Karnezis (Granada)

Defenders: Jose Holebas (Olympiacos), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos), Kostas Manolas (Olympiacos), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Vasilis Torosidis (Roma), Giorgios Tzavellas (PAOK), Loukas Vyntra (Levante)

Midfielders: Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna), Ioannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Andreas Samaris (Olympiacos), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor)

Forwards: Forwards: Theofanis Gekas (Konyaspor), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Giorgios Samaras (Celtic)

Greece
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Greece may have sneaked into the FIFA World Cup but their superb defensive record should ensure that they do not go unnoticed in Brazil.

Despite winning eight out of 10 matches in Group G of UEFA qualification, Greece finished behind leaders Bosnia-Herzegovina on goal difference, sending them into the play-offs.

Star striker Kostas Mitroglou went on to score twice in a 3-1 first-leg win over Romania and a resolute display saw Fernando Santos' men claim a 1-1 draw in Bucharest to seal an aggregate victory.

Greece's steadiness at the back was a constant theme throughout their bid to reach this year's showpiece, as they shipped just four goals in the 10 qualifiers that preceded the play-offs.

Of those four, three came in one match against Bosnia, as Granada goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis finished the campaign with eight clean sheets.

His form - and that of experienced defensive pair Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Vasilis Torosidis, who play for Borussia Dortmund and Roma respectively - was vital in securing qualification.

And coach Santos, who is set to leave his post at the end of the tournament, will demand the same again after seeing his side drawn in a tricky-looking Group C.

Greece open their campaign with a game against Colombia, who qualified second in South America with form that saw them rocket to as high as third in the FIFA rankings last year.

Clashes against Asian champions Japan and African heavyweights Ivory Coast will follow in what looks to be one of the most even groups at the tournament.

Greece may have forged a reputation as over-achievers in the UEFA European Championship - a tournament they sensationally won in 2004, and reached the last eight of in 2012 - but success has proved hard to come by on football's biggest stage.

They have reached the World Cup just twice, and conceded 10 goals without scoring one of their own when losing all three group games in their first appearance in 1994.

Slight improvement was made at the 2010 event in Germany, which included the nation's first win at the tournament, courtesy of goals from Dimitris Salpingidis and VassilisTorosidis in a 2-1 triumph against Nigeria.

However, they ultimately fell short of reaching the last 16, meaning Greece can make history by progressing on this occasion.

To do so, they will surely need their defence to remain solid and Mitroglou in form.

The striker moved from Olympiacos to Fulham for a reported fee of £11million in January, but played just three matches for the English club as he struggled to prove his fitness.

Mitroglou managed only five goals in qualifying, but three came when it mattered most against Romania, as he finished as Greece's top scorer.

He will be aided by Salpingidis and Giorgios Samaras, while captain Giorgos Karagounis should play a key role in midfield.

Having gained over 130 caps, Karagounis boasts valuable experience, in addition to an excellent range of passing and the ability to pose problems from dead-ball situations.

Karagounis should also be inspired by his sense of missed opportunity, after being suspended for two major fixtures in Greece's football history.

The veteran not only missed his nation's Euro 2004 final win over Portugal, but was also banned for their quarter-final defeat to Germany in the Euros eight years later.

At the age of 37 and with his international career surely in its final throes, Karagounis would love nothing more than to lead his side into unchartered territory – a place in the tournament's last 16.

Player Profile (Girogos Karagounis)Edit

Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: March 6, 1977
Club: Fulham
International Debut: v El Salvador (August 19, 1999)
World Cup Appearances: 3
World Cup Goals: 0

Although he has won more than 130 caps for Greece, a sense of missed opportunity is sure to inspire Giorgos Karagounis in Brazil.

Despite being a near ever-present in his country's midfield for the last 15 years, Karagounis has sat on the sidelines for two major moments in Greek football.

Greece's stunning UEFA Euro 2004 win - which culminated in a 1-0 final triumph over tournament hosts Portugal - shocked the football world and made Karagounis and his team-mates well-known across the continent.

Yet suspension saw Karagounis, who scored a long-range stunner against Portugal in the tournament opener, miss out on a final appearance.

"It's hard to take…they (UEFA) changed the rules after that tournament and wiped yellow cards off at the semi-final stage," he told The Guardian last year.

"I was the last one to miss out on the old system. Jinxed."

Further disappointment was to come at Euro 2012, with the tenacious midfielder - part of his country's 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign, which saw them claim their first win at the tournament - ruled out of a quarter-final against Germany.

He scored the goal against Russia that sent Greece through from the group stages, only to receive his second tournament booking for a dispute with referee Jonas Eriksson in the same match.

Karagounis - so determined to bring joy to his compatriots, who were in the midst of a crippling financial crisis - felt Greece should have been awarded a penalty when he appeared to be tripped and was booked for his protests.

And although Greece's progression to the last eight brought immense joy to the nation, they lost 4-2 to Germany without their captain.

The good news for Karagounis is that he has another chance to shine at a major tournament, having made light of his advancing years to play a key role in Greece's run to the 2014 World Cup.

Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan will confront Greece in Group C, and a relatively open pool would appear to provide Fernando Santos' men with an opportunity.

Greece have never made it past the group stages of a World Cup, but can take confidence from the defensive strength they displayed in qualifying, conceding just six goals in 12 matches, including a two-legged play-off against Romania.

While Karagounis may no longer be as quick as he used to be, his range of passing and set-piece ability should not be underestimated.

His wholehearted displays are also likely to inspire team-mates and he should be fresh in Brazil having been frequently overlooked by club side Fulham following the arrival of Felix Magath as manager in February.

Greece's most-capped player would seem to be nearing the end of his career and previously claimed that leading his country to the World Cup would be "the perfect way to go out".

Whether he still has retirement on his mind remains to be seen, but with this year's showpiece in Brazil almost certain to be his last major tournament, Karagounis will be determined not to miss out on another key date in Greece's football history.



News SourcesEdit

Official team Twitter account: @EthnikiOmada

Greece Football Federation website: http://www.epo.gr/Home.aspx?a_id=256

Unofficial Twitter account on Greece news: @greekfooty

Greece blogger for ESPN: @cparaskevas

Metrosport newspaper: http://www.newspapersperiodicos.com/GRECIA/

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