Team Profile: Greece
Colours: White shirts, white shorts and white socks.
Nickname: I Ethniki (the National)
Previous World Cup appearances: 1994
Best World Cup performance: Group stage 1994
Coach: Otto Rehhagel
Most capped player: Theodoros Zagorakis 120
Top scorer: Nikos Anastopoulos 29
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10) : 12
Until 2001, Greece had just two appearances in the finals of a major tournament. The first was in the European Champions of 1980 and the second in the 1994 World Cup. And then the unexpected happened... Otto Rehhagel took over as the team`s coach, first completely transforming its style, attitude and mentality and then leading it to the most sensational achievement in football`s history. The Euro 2004 triumph. In 2008, he added a third Euro appearance under Greece`s belt and now the team faces a second World Cup challenge after a disastrous tournament sixteen years ago. Back then Greece exited the tournament with two 4-0 defeats and a less harsh 2-0 setback.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Despite being drawn in a rather easy group, Greece had to fight hard their way to South Africa. The Greeks finished second in Group B of the UEFA zone, behind of Switzerland (to which Greece suffered defeats both home and away) and earned a World Cup spot by beating Ukraine in a two-legged play-off. Greece slumped to a scoreless draw in Athens in the first leg before Dimitris Salpingidis` goal in Donetsk sent Greece to South Africa.
Greece have been accused as being one of the most boring and anti-football teams ever but their biggest strength lies in its solid defence. With two centre-backs and a libero, Otto Rehhagel revived in 2004 the old-fashioned but always effective catenaccio style. He was proved right...
When it comes to creative football, Greece suffers greatly. The only attacking plan is to wait for a set piece so someone can jump to the ball and send it home. Otherwise, don`t expect any rational attempts with the ball down the pitch.
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