Greece yet again proved to struggle in a major tournament finals and didn’t even show a glimmer of fight to at least give them something to hope for. They deservedly lost 0-2 to the Koreans, who were a class above. Let’s take a look at the clash against Nigeria…
Greece – Nigeria
* Free State, Bloemfontein, 1,400 metres altitude.
What was disappointing about Greece in their tournament opener was not the fact that they lost but that they didn’t even try to make an effort at all. They lacked cohesion with no communication between the different lines, while the large amount of errors showed they are unable to hold their own at this level of competition in a major tournament. The small fight back towards the end of the game proves nothing given they were already down 0-2 by that stage. In fact, Greece were fortunate to get away with only a 0-2 defeat because the Koreans had chances to increase their margin. The atrocious display was followed by plenty of unrest between the players and Rehhagel and there has been wide speculation of a lot of blame being partitioned in the dressing room. There is a negative climate amongst the ranks despite attempts from officials to try shield the team from criticism. There is no expectation that they head into today’s game hoping to win and get back in the hunt for qualification to the next round but there is an expectation they show some fighting spirit to put in a decent display. Not many will criticise them if they do their best and lose. Just an avoidance of going down without a fight. The German coach is likely to make plenty of changes to the line-up given the errors and poor displays of many regulars in the opening clash. Moras and Kyrgiakos will return to the starting eleven, while Salpigidis will partner Gekas in attack. Karagounis will probably hold on to his spot.
Although Nigeria lost their first game 0-1 to Argentina, they still proved they have the team to be able to match South Korea equally for second spot in the group and qualify for the round of 16. They are a very athletic team with versatile footballers and showed some good signs on the pitch despite the superiority of their opponents. Had they not been so careless in the final third they could have created problems for the Argentines. However, their World Cup campaign really begins today as they seek two wins to get to the next round beginning with today’s clash against Greece. With regard to the team news, Lagerback has a full squad at his disposal but it has been reported he is likely to make 2-3 changes as the introductions Martins (in place of Obinna) and Odemwingie (instead of Obasi) are virtually assured in the starting line-up.
Greece: Tzorvas – Moras, Kyrgiakos, Avraam Papadopoulos – Vyntra, Karagounis, Tziolis, Katsouranis, Torosidis – Salpigidis, gekas
Nigeria: Enyeama – Odiah, Shittu, Yobo, Taiwo – Kaita, Etuhu, Haruna, Odemwingie – Martins, Yakubu
SELECTION: It is no surprise that Greece are not favourites. If they play a close knit game they are capable of snatching a point against a better side in Nigeria. I think under 2.5 goals is a possibility here.