World Cup Team Profile - Greece
Coach: Fernando Santos
Captain: Giorgios Karagounis (Fulham)
Full Greece Roster
The Road to Rio: On paper, Greece did everything right to book a direct ticket to Brazil. They lost only once in 10 qualifiers with an 8-1-1 record. They conceded only four goals in 10 games and not a single one at home. Their 25 points should have sent them directly to the World Cup, but there was the problem of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The would-be World Cup debutants matched Greece step for step and poured in a remarkable 30 goals scored to Greece’s 12. The result meant that the Greeks had to go through the playoff round to get to the Final.
Greece was fortunate to avoid some of the stiffer playoff opposition like France and Sweden and instead was handed Romania. After a 3-1 home win in the first leg, Greece held on for a 1-1 draw in Bucharest to seal their passage to Brazil.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Group Stage)
First World Cup appearance: United States 1994 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
Best World Cup finish: Group Stage
This summer marks 10 years since Greece pulled off one of the great upsets in world football in shocking the host Portuguese to claim Euro 2004. It's going to take that level of surprise again for the Greeks to make any noise in Brazil.
For Greece to succeed in Group C, they'll need to continue to do the one thing they do exceptionally well and that's defend. Pehaps not conducive to what you would call attractive football, the Greek style of resolute defence can frustrate the opposition into making mistakes and that's what they'll count on to progress. Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Dortmund) and Kostas Manolas (Olympiacos) are three of Europe's finest young defenders and have the ability to hold the very best at bay.
What will hurt the Greeks is an inability to keep possession. There simply isn't enough skill in the middle here and that is highlighted by the fact that, no offence meant to the man, 36-year-old Karagounis still has a starting role at the centre of the Piratiko midfield. Greece should have trouble against any team with fluid play in the middle of the park. Japan, in particular, should give the Greeks a rough ride in that department.
Manufacturing offence could be another issue and much of that will depend on Konstantinos Mitroglou. A prolific scorer at Olympiacos, Mitroglou caught the eye of several top European teams including Arsenal and Liverpool, but signed an extension with the Greek champions last December. That didn't lead to him staying in Greece, though, as he eventually went to Fulham on the final day of the January transfer window.
His time in London was less than ideal, making just three appearances with no goals. If his form suffers in Brazil, so will the Greek attack. Veteran Georgios Samaras (Celtic), pacey winger Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK) and even attack-minded left-back Jose Holebas (Olympiacos) can provide offence, but it will ultimately be all about getting service to Mitroglou.
Greece has their work cut out for them in Brazil, but they're not going to phone it in. Even if they suffer defeat at the hands of more talented opposition, the hallmark of this Greek side is their ability to make their opponents toil for all 90 minutes. If the rest of Group C isn't ready for that kind of commitment, Greece can make them pay.