World Cup won’t be a Greek tragedy for Fernando Santos’ side

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Drawn in a group containing Colombia, Japan and Ivory Coast, Greece could be about to raise eyebrows yet again on the international football stage.

The Euro 2004 champions, who booked their ticket to Brazil with a comfortable play-off victory over Romania, have made a habit of confounding the critics and will be in confident mood following a solid qualification campaign.

Fernando Santos’ success has been built on a mean defence, with the Galanolefki keeping clean sheets in eight of their previous 10 World Cup group qualifiers.

Players like Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Roma defender Vasilis Torosidis have both impressed at club level and could prove crucial to the Greek’s prospects of keeping the opposition at bay.

And it’s this defensive doggedness that makes them an outside bet to upset the odds and potentially pip Colombia to top spot in the group, available at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

Those chances could hinge on the outcome of their opener against the South Americans, with the Greeks 5/1 outsiders for the win and Los Cafeteros 8/13 for victory.

Santos will be optimistic about his side‘s chances though, with the Piratiko boasting plenty of attacking talent which is more than capable of scoring a goal or two.

Strikers Dimitris Salpingidis and Theofanis Gekas have experience of scoring consistently at international level, while Barcelona will attest to the aerial ability of Giorgios Samaras.

The real ace in the hole is Kostas Mitroglou though, with the 25-year-old forward making history as the first Greek player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League this season.

Throw in experienced midfielders Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis, who were part of the sides that surprised in 2004 and 2012 and there is every reason to think they are worth backing to reach the second round, with odds of 5/2 on the Greek’s exiting at that stage.

With such an array of options at his disposal, Santos could play for the draw against Colombia, on at 12/5, and instead go in search of wins against Japan and Ivory Coast.

Once in the knockouts, Greece may even surprise further, with 9/1 offered on the former European champions claiming a shock win over likely opponents Italy, who have been known to endure a few slip ups over the years.

The Greeks have never made it out of a World Cup group and remain at 4/9 for an early exit, but don’t write off their chances just yet.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.