World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Greece set for tragedy
Past tournaments: 1994 and 2010
Previous Best: Group Stage, USA 1994 and South Africa 2010
How they got here: Greece kept eight clean sheets in their 10 qualifying matches – more than any other country – but it was still not enough to get them an automatic ticket to Brazil as they finished second behind Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But it did not matter as Fernando Santos’ side cruised past Romania 4-2 over two legs in the play-offs to qualify for their second straight World Cup finals.
Star man: Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham)
The Fulham midfielder may be 37-years-old but the Greek captain is still a vital piece of the puzzle for Santos’ side. It is no secret Greece’s recent success has been based around a solid defence and Karagounis, who has won 132 caps for his country, plays a crucial part in those tactics shielding the back four and with set-pieces a fundamental part of the Greek armoury the former Panathinaikos man’s ability in dead ball situations is priceless. He was instrumental in Greek footballs greatest moment at Euro 2004 and he will have to be on top of his game again if Greece are to make any impact in Brazil.
Under the radar: Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund)
The Borussia Dortmund star has enjoyed an excellent season at the Westfalenstadion, taking advantage of injuries to Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic. His form has not gone unnoticed in Germany after Sokratis was named in the Bundesliga select XI for 2013/14. The 25-year-old was a key part of Greece’s qualification campaign in which they conceded just four goals and with defence the order of the day, Sokratis will need to continue his excellent form on the biggest stage of them all.
Team nutcase: Jose Holebas (Olympiakos)
The Olympiakos defender had a night to forget at Old Trafford in March after his push on Robin van Persie in the penalty area gave Manchester United the start they needed as they overturned a 2-0 deficit to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals.
But we are going to forget that for a second and focus on the 29-year-old giving Goldenballs himself a run for his money in the body art stakes. Pain is no object for this German-born Men’s Health cover star with huge tattoos plastered across his chest, both arms and back. He even has the words ‘Don’t Care’ written on his knuckles but after his performance against United maybe he should!
How will they get on?
On paper Group C looks a difficult group to call but with no clear favourite every side should be confident of reaching the second knockout phase, including Greece. Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan will all prove difficult opponents but with Greece’s defensive style, which saw them all the way to the 2004 European Championship title, they will prove a tough nut to crack in Brazil. Finding the back of the net could prove more problematic for Santos’ side and they will be looking to Celtic star Georgios Samaras and Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou to find the goals that could see them qualify for the knockout stages for the first time.
Watch Greece come from a goal down against Nigeria at South Africa 2010 to win their first ever match at a World Cup finals:
How far do you think Greece can go at the World Cup? Tweet @OliverYew with your views now!