World Cup 2014 Guide: Greece


Not many fancy the Greece side to do well at this World Cup, a team without any real star players and a poor World Cup record, but in Euro 2004 they showed just how dangerous they can be and why shouldn’t be underestimated.  In an open group the Greeks could surprise again, but will have to play to their best again to be able to make it through the tournament.

Greece’s Footballing History

Greece have only recently become a side that is able to qualify for tournaments, with years of failures in qualifying competitions taking their toll on the nation’s football fans.  Their first tournament was Euro 1980, where they came bottom of a very strong group including West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Holland.  Further disappointment came when they qualified for their first World Cup in 1994, where they lost every game.

Greece’s golden moment in international football came at Euro 2004 in Portugal, where they shocked the world by winning the competition as 100/1 outsiders.  They sneaked through the group stage ahead of Spain on goals scored, after beating the hosts in the opening game and drawing against the Spanish before losing to Russia.  From there the side went the entire knock-out stage without conceding a goal with 1-0 wins against France, the Czech Republic and then Portugal earning them their first ever international trophy.

Their title defence in 2008 reverted to old international form, though, as they finished bottom of their group with no points.  Greece were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage in the last tournament but managed to make the quarter-finals in 2012, where they lost to finalists Germany.

Greece’s Road to the Finals

Greece had a strong qualifying campaign, but came 2nd in their group to Bosnia & Herzegovina on goal difference, being the runners-up with the most points in UEFA qualifying.  They managed to keep clean sheets in all of their home games and only conceded 4 goals in the entire group stage.

Greece drew Romania in the play-offs and managed to get a 4-2 win to progress to their second consecutive World Cup.  A 3-1 home win was followed by a 1-1 draw away in Bucharest that saw them through.

Greece’s Key Players

Vasilis Torosidis will be a key man for Greece as he anchors a side typically built around its defence.  He typically plays further up the pitch for club Roma, playing the holding midfield role, but will be pegged back by the cautiousness of the Greek side.  Despite an uncertain future at Celtic, Georgios Samaras is one of Greece’s stalwarts and typically plays just behind the main striker, who is likely to be Fulham’s Kostas Mitroglou – who has scored as many goals for his country as Samaras with less than half the caps.

Greece’s Group

Greece might feel they are able to qualify from Group C with only Columbia being a real big name.  It’s the Columbians Greece face in their first match on the 14th of June (5pm, BBC) before they go up against Japan on the 19th (11pm, BBC).  I think that Greece’s final game against the Ivory Coast on the 24th (9pm, BBC) will be the decider for the second spot in the group, and will see one of the sides earn their first ever last 16 appearance.


Greece’s World Cup form has been abysmal in their two visits so far, and while I think they’ll put up a better fight this year I think that the Ivory Coast will prove a stronger side and leave Greece in third.  While they have a good defensive team, I can’t see them replying if they go behind – and when they go up against Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba it’ll take a great performance to keep a clean sheet.  It might be more pain for Greece this year, but you can never count them out.


About Author

Steven Kellow is a Ross County fan currently exiled as a student in Aberdeen. Aside from following the Staggies and Scottish football in general, he takes an interest in the more obscure and abstract features of the beautiful game: analysing football history, competitions and the side of football off the pitch. Enjoys writing about a range of topics apart from football too. He can actually understand BBC Alba commentary also.

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