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World Cup: Did Greece Deserve to Qualify? (And the Last Lost Penalty)

Greece failed to advance to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals due to a missed penalty 
World Cup fans still talk about Greece’s football journey in the 2014 FIFA World Cup that ended in the final 16 after a tough battle against Costa Rica. The teams came out of both regular and extra time equal, till “Los Ticos” claimed the victory in a penalty shootout.
With three times more the shot attempts (24-8) and 57% of the ball’s possession, the Greeks felt that a win would’ve been the fairest result. But how true is that? Should the team that attacks the most go through?
Greece played well, in fact they played better than they did in the group stage. They got out of their comfort zone, placed some more attacking-minded midfielders and pressed for a goal from the opening. Costa Rica on the other hand caged in and focused more on their defending notes compared to the earlier games against Italy and Uruguay in which they were victorious.
In no sport does the better team always win
In fact, it doesn’t matter who’s better. You might have the most skillful midfielders, an experienced defensive line, a bright minded coach, a crowd that goes berserk and still lose! If you do have all that on your side and eventually lose, who says you deserve to win? That’s my view on the Greece – Costa Rica game. If Greece had clinched the win, they would have deserved it. They would have attacked and scored. But they didn’t. Because Costa Rica defended and blocked their shots.
When you’re given almost an hour to score a crucial goal against a team that’s a man down and you don’t make ends meet, then sorry, but you deserve to go home. Same way, the team that is fighting tooth and nail to keep the score even, manages to do so, deserves to go through.
In the game against Japan, Greece was on the other end of the line, when they refused to give a goal up and parked a bus out of Orestis Karnezis‘ goalpost. They had no intentions to create an opportunity to score but they well deserved that 0-0 tie.
Fernando Santos spoke on a Portuguese radio station yesterday and blamed a couple of Greek players (he left out names) of ball hogging. Instead of passing the ball around to create better chances, they forced long balls or took one too many touches that lead to possession loss. He referred to them as wannabe individual heroes rather than trying to be part of a team.
Greece’s ex-coach (his contract has expired and Claudio Ranieri is taking on) plus the reasons mentioned above are what a team has to duel on. If you think you deserve the win, then go grab it. Of course, there are always exceptions. Like when the referee favors a team. But in a final 16 game against two teams that are putting their everything on the field, the one that eventually survives is the one that deserves to go though. And that one is Costa Rica.
The final penalty kick
Now one can argue that if Fanis Gekas had scored that last penalty kick, Greece might have progressed instead. FIFA has spent hours contemplating on what’s the fairest way to decide a game that’s tied. Coin flips, Golden goals, Silver goals, second games or even third games. Penalty kicks have become the deciding factor and teams are supposed to practice on them. The voted best goalie of the Primera division and guardian angel of Costa Rica’s goalposts, Navas, did his research and claimed that he knew how Gekas executes his penalty shots. Believe him or not, he won the 1-on-1 battle. If Gekas had also practiced, he wouldn’t have left looking like this:
To conclude, Greece can come up with all kinds of excuses but the truth is, if they had done their work properly, this picture would’ve been full of blue jerseys instead. crc
We’ll just have to wait for the 2016 Euro in France.

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