In the current composition of the team from the golden team of Greeks of the model of the year 2004, only Karagounis and Katsouranis are still there. In principle, not much is inherited from that generation – now the Greeks, play a more or less vivid football, then eight years ago. Is it better or worse for other teams? Those Hellenes we overpowered, hard to say about the current team. Last winter we could defeat the Greeks.
Not before, not after Euro 2004 Greece didn't show much promise on the international stage. Lone success, received not only by skill, but rather by output and trainer's strategy. We can write a whole book about that team, but, naturally we are not planning on doing so. Because there is too much difference between the past team and the present. What happened then? Mostly defensive tactics with the use of libero. A little hint, for those who are not aware. Before Arrigo Sacchi "invented" scheme 4-4-1 with a lined defense, they used a so called "cleaner", that was a precaution. In the 21 century, a few people used that tactics, but Rehhagel remembered. Traianos Dellas was the one to fulfill that role.
A lot of people knew that it could last long. There were many reasons for it. Firstly, the competitors, could find an effective cure, that could be capable annul all the efforts of the Greeks. Secondly, this football was, let's just call it, not for the fans. Greek matches put people to sleep better then a lullaby. This was not sport.
The transition period was, maybe, over. Maybe not. The Greeks started playing more actively, but the results suffered. Championship 2006 flew by the best for that time team of Europe, on the Euro 2008 it showed itself as the worst. At last, in the UAR Hellenes achieved only one thing – achieved a first in the first victory in history in the championship setting. But 2:1 with Nigeria did not help the Greeks much. After Mundial the era of Otto Rehhagel ended, and he was undoubtedly the best coach of the team in history.
A way to Ukraine and Poland.
In July a new helmsman was presented. The Greeks decided not to look for a star mentor, but concentrated on finding a trainer who knew the local football very well. They didn't look for long, for Fernando Santos was a favorite in that race from the very beginning.
In the qualifying round draw Greece got the first basket, which in itself does not imply particularly strong opponents. But the opponents they got where not the easiest ones. Traditionally strong Croats, uncomfortable Israelis and Georgians, where supposed to cost a lot of suffering to the Hellenes, but only the “chessboards” succeeded, and only in part.
On the other side, we cannot call the start of the Greeks all too confident. That way after two starting meetings, the team had only two points out of 6 possible. Afterward a five game winning streak followed, that allowed the “Hellenes” to achieve leadership in the tournament table of their group. All was almost lost after the draw with the Latvia, but after that the Greeks pulled themselves together and won both remaining matches, including the Croats.
Let’s compare the result of Santos in the qualification round, say, with the statistics of the team at Euro 2004. So, if +4 = 1 -1 for goals scored and goals missed (which for us is the main point in the statistics) 7:4 in six games. On average, 1.8 goals per game, but the bulk was scored to the group stage, while in the playoffs all three matches ended with 1-0.
In qualifying for Euro 2012: +7 = 3 - 0, 14:5, and an average of 1.9 goals per match. You may say, nothing much has changed. But the numbers are not everything that is important. The Greeks began to act more diverse. And the average total of two almost achieved. We can surely say that that they are on a decent level.
Talks with Santos where not going so smooth, as a matter of speaking. As we can se even the post of the mentor of the Greek team is not very much sought for. To sum it up the first round of talks between the Portuguese and the Greek management didn't achieve any results, the subject of controversy was ... the salary. This is very understandable for the crisis years of the country. Anyway, that's not what the talk is about. The Football Federation of Greece was very serious about their decision and finally Santos agreed to lead the country’s team.
Why was he so important? Maybe the reason that right before the unlucky for Greece African Mundial Santos was awarded a price for being the most priced trainer of the decade. If we look closely at the career of Santos we can see a funny thing. He was playing mostly in he’s home country, started training there, leaded the “Porto” for three years. Then suddenly moved to Greece, where he first worked in “AEK”, and afterwards in “Panathinaikos.” Then he went back home for two times, but went back to Greece both times. He spent the longest time in “P.A.O.K” until he received a grant level.
As we can see he is good for the team. In April he prolonged the contract for two more years, meaning until the World Championship in Brazil. That means that the Greek Football authority has confidence in Santos. Anyway, a lot depends on the coming Euro. The Portuguese somewhat surprised with he's request, which caused at least two questions.
The current squad
Goalkeepers: Konstantinos Chalkias (PAOK Saloniki), Alexandros Tzorvas (AC Palermo), Michail Sifakis (Aris Saloniki)
Defenders: Vassilios Torosidis (Olympiakos Pireus), Stylianos Malezas (PAOK Saloniki), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos Pireus), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Brema), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen), Georgios Tzavellas (AS Monaco), Jose Holebas (Olympiakos Pireus)
Midfielder: Panagiotis Kone (FC Bologna), Grigorios Makos (AEK Ateny), Alexandros Tziolis (AS Monaco), Georgios Fotakis (PAOK Saloniki), Konstantinos Fortounis (Kaiserslautern), Ionannis Maniatis (Olympiakos Pireus), Ioannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiakos Pireus) Konstantinos Katsouranis (Panathinaikos Ateny), Georgios Karagounis (Panathinaikos Ateny), Sotirios Ninis (Panathinaikos Ateny)
Forwards: Georgios Samaras (Celtic Glasgow), Theofanis Gekas (Samsunspor), Dimitrios Salpingidis (PAOK Saloniki), Konstantinos Mitroglou (Atromitos Ateny), Nikolaos Lymperopoulos (AEK Ateny)