“You’ll never get Greece out of the Euro” was the defiant football-meets-finance cry of the Greek press after the crisis-ridden nation’s unexpected progress to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals at the expense of Group A favourites Russia.
The shock 2004 champions have afforded their suffering supporters a priceless opportunity to dream of a repeat of that success courtesy of veteran Giorgos Karagounis’ strike in first-half injury time against previously unbeaten Russia.
And in a quirk of fate that carries even more resonance given the financial difficulties back home, they are likely to meet the nation of their nemesis Angela Merkel, 9/4 tournament favourites Germany.
A draw for Joachim Low’s side in their final Group B game against Denmark will be enough to secure their hold on top spot and confirm that quarter-final pairing.
Though the coach and team have changed in the eight years since, Greece will relish the role of unfashionable outsiders again, their feat in defeating Russia reminiscent of their route to glory then, achieved the hard way past France and Portugal.
Their daunting quarter-final task will be made even tougher however by the absence of Russia-slaying captain Karagounis, who will harshly miss out through suspension following a controversial booking for diving in the box.
Greece are 33/1 to regain the trophy, a price that puts them behind the equally surprising Group A winners Czech Republic, who slumped to a 4-1 loss in their opener against Russia but recovered to claim victories over Greece and Poland.
Their probable quarter-final opponents are Portugal, and while they would start such a clash as outsiders, their last two last-eight appearances inspired sustained challenges, finishing as runners-up in 1996 and semi-finalists in 2004.
The Czechs, who kept their first European Championship clean sheet in five attempts against Poland, a welcome boost given some scary moments against Russia and Greece, are 25/1 to go the distance.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.