Greece is in Group C for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. The strength of Greece lies in its defense, which has helped them keep a higher number of clean sheets. They were also one of the four teams which has not conceded a goal from outside their penalty area and one of the three teams not to concede a goal from a corner. Around half of the goals, they conceded were headers, since their impressive defense looked very vulnerable when dealing with high free kicks. However, they weren’t as strong in offense and created very few goals from set pieces.
Greece’s first foray into World Cup in 1994 was embarrassing as they lost all the group matches while conceding ten goals without reply. Greece, which also qualified for World Cup in 2010, provided yet another disappointing performance in the group stage last time around and is expected to do better than that. Portuguese Fernando Santos, who joined as the coach after the team’s 2010 exit, has led the team to major tournaments and has maintained a high level of stability and performance in the team. Santos previously managed several Greece clubs before taking national responsibility and has extensive knowledge of the culture and football of Greece. It is also important to note that this would be Santos’ last time as the nation’s coach as he is going back to manage club football in Greece.
Forward Kostas Mitroglou, who currently joined Fulham from Olympiakos, would be the key player for Greece. Mitroglou, also known as Gunslinger for his celebrations, has had a miserable start to the tournament and will be heavily relied upon in the group stages. Striker Giorgos Karagounis is very much capable of providing a long distance goal while defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who was a standout at the Euro 2012, will be relied upon during the group stages. Fast and flexible attacking midfielder Giannis Fetfatzidis, who currently plays Italian club football, will also be a great asset. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis has also done his part as Greece conceded only four goals in the qualifying stages.
In the evenly matched Group C, Greece has a reasonable chance to move on to knockouts mainly because of their defensive strength even though Colombia and Ivory Coast are stronger than Greece physically. The strong back line of Greece could keep Colombia at bay, as the team does not tend to head the ball. Of course at the international level, Greece are expected to have taken note of that already. Japan could be an uncomfortable opponent as most of their goals came from headers, while Ivory Coast could test their defense using their high-tempo starts.
If Greece can stay strong in defense and convert their opportunities at the top, they have more than a chance to clear the group stages. Greece’s chance of winning is also directly dependent on the form of forward Kostas Mitroglou, who has much to prove at the international level.