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World Cup: What Greece Needs to Qualify for the Next Round

Greece's soccer players celebrating. Greece coach Fernando Santos had claimed there was far more to the 2004 European champions than a defensive strategy, but in the opening game against Colombia his team were found wanting. Greece had half-chances but no coherent strategy. The Portuguese manager had the temerity to insist it was a close-fought game separated only by Colombia’s precision in front of goal. The divide was deeper than that. Greece had conceded only four times during qualifying for Brazil 2014, but it took just five minutes for their famously formidable rearguard to be breached, with Colombia’s Armero the man responsible. The dream is still alive and Greece can qualify to the next round, but we need to turn things around quite quickly. Greece made a really bad start and no one wants to experience again what took place in USA 1994 (3 losses in 3 games, with 10 goals against and without scoring a single goal). In the next two games, Greece needs to get into the spirit of the game from the beginning. The players must show strength, resolve, and stay focused throughout the game. Our most important problem is scoring. If you don’t score goals, you will never win. Furthermore, Greece must improve in defense. It was always our advantage against the opponents’ defense. However, we struggled too much against the Colombians and we conceded three goals. Fernando Santos is puzzled about using Kostas Manolas after his mistake in the first goal and he might replace him with Vagelis Moras who has the experience of the Italian championship playing for Verona FC. Dimitris Salpiggidis was negative and Santos probably noticed his mistake not using Ioannis Fetfatzidis in the starting lineup. Fanis Gekas touched the ball only twice during the 90 minutes and lost the biggest opportunity to score against Colombia. Kostas Mitroglou, Greece’s top scorer seems likely to take his place against Japan. With four points against Japan and Ivory Coast (3 points against the Africans and a draw against the Asians), Greece probably qualifies to the next round. If we beat both Japan and Ivory Coast, then we qualify for sure. Japan lost 2-1 to Ivory Coast, which means that Colombia and Didie Drogba’s team are the favorites for passing to the last 16. The game against the “Samurais” on Thursday can be described as a final. If Greece loses, we are out… There is no room for disappointment. Fernando Santos has 4 days in front of him to correct things and make the necessary changes. Greece is still alive. But if we lose again, we want to hold our heads up high…

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