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Greece to Face Goliath Test in Polokwane – Tuesday will provide a definitive ninety minutes for the Greek national team as Otto Rehhagel’s men prepare to lock horns with giants Argentina in a pivotal final fixture.
The Peter Mokaba Stadium will be the venue for the most important match for the Greeks since their EURO 2004 triumph in Portugal six years ago. The Greeks are currently in a two-way logjam for second place in Group B and will need to walk away from Tuesday’s match with a result better than that of South Korea, who face Nigeria in Durban as well on Tuesday. The Greeks defeated Nigeria last Thursday in Bloemfontein to boost their chances of progressing after a prior 2-0 loss to South Korea filled the team with plenty of doubt. Still, Greece need a positive showing if they are to progress to the knockout round just a few days after grabbing their first-ever World Cup win and goals through Dimitrios Salpingidis and Vasilis Torosidis. The Pirate Ship will be hoping its voyage on Tuesday night is not its last in South Africa, but Greece know they are in tough against section leaders Argentina. The Albicelestes cruised to a 4-1 defeat of South Korea last Thursday in Johannesburg, and although some regulars will get the night off, Diego Maradona will encourage his side to push on and finish the group schedule on a high. The South Americans have all but clinched a berth in the knockout round and are expected to win the group, if not the game as well.
According to Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero, Maradona will make a few changes to the Argentine line-up with Aguero admitting he has been told he will play against Greece and Diego Milito will too. The coach himself suggested, however, Lionel Messi, the maestro of the two-time winners, will also play despite reports that the FC Barcelona would be rested for the knockout round. Regardless of who features for Argentina, Greece know they will be in tough as there’s a sense of master-class within the Argentina ranks. Greek supporters will be hoping that prestige will force the Greeks to elevate their own game, with a berth in the knockout round lying in the balance. The Greeks appear to be in full-strength as knocks to Vasilis Torosidis and Giorgos Karagounis have healed; however, Avraam Papadopoulos is reportedly still sporting a thigh injury, but he is still expected to play against the Argentines. Rehhagel’s tactics are expected to be rather defensive considering the firepower the Greeks are up against in Polokwane, but the likes of Dimitrios Salpingidis and Giorgos Samaras could made appearances for the Galanoleuki as Greece will need at least a goal against Argentina. Mathematics might become the deciding factor for who moves on and who goes home in Group B as goal differential, as it stands heading into the deciding day, could mean Greece will take the first flight back to Athens. Nevertheless, as this World Cup has exhibited in the first eleven days of action in South Africa, anything can happen in the sport and Greece are still very much in the tournament with the chance of progressing past the first round.

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