Sports

Defensive work is paying off for Santos

GREECE

It is a decade since Greece stunned their continent by winning the European Championship against all the odds in Portugal.

Anyone underestimating them again will do so at their peril.

Today’s Greece is built on the same strong defensive foundations which took the class of 2004 to Europe’s biggest prize. They conceded just four times in their 10 qualifying games en route to Brazil, keeping a remarkable eight clean sheets along the way.

However, after missing out on top spot to Bosnia- Herzegovina in Group G on goal difference, Fernando Santos’ men needed to see off Romania in a play-off.

Despite conceding in both contests, they did just that, emerging victorious by an aggregate score of 4-2.

Greece have Borussia Dortmund star Sokratis Papastathopoulos (above) at the heart of that stingy unit which appears to have mastered the art of narrow victories.  

Midfielders Georgios Karagounis and Konstantinos Katsouranis have well over 200 caps between them and can pass on a wealth of knowledge to their junior teammates.

Up front, both Konstantinos Mitroglou and Georgios Samaras have enjoyed good spells at club level and will be vying to provide the crucial moments at the other end of the pitch.

Greece’s first World Cup experience came only in 1994.

That tournament in the United States is not remembered fondly as they bowed out at the group stage without a single point or a solitary goal.