On Sunday, November 13, Greece will play a very important match as their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign continues. After their first three matches, Greece has earned 9 points with 3 wins and sit tied at the top of group H with Belgium. Belgium in currently ranked #4 in the world behind Argentina, Germany and Brazil, so they’re definitely the toughest side Greece will face in group H. However, it’s Bosnia and Herzegovina that present Greece with one of their most important matches of the qualifiers this Sunday.
Assuming Belgium will win the group, it’s likely that Greece will have to battle it out with Bosnia and Herzegovina for the second place spot. The top team from each group will automatically advance to the World Cup, while the second place teams will go to a playoff round with one another. With that said, however, it’s still early so it’s premature to crown Belgium as winners of the group. There’s definitely a chance for Greece to win it if they continue to play the way they’ve been playing – but it’ll sure be tough.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are a very good team and present Greece with their toughest match of the qualifiers yet. Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently ranked #28 in the world, while Greece is currently ranked #42. Although it seems like a huge difference, at this level in the rankings, the difference doesn’t mean much – other than to say Bosnia and Herzegovina have performed better over the last few years. In their first three matches of the World Cup qualifiers, Bosnia and Herzegovina have won two and lost one. Their two wins were against Estonia and Cyprus whom they beat 5-0 and 2-0, respectively, while their loss of 0-4 was against Belgium.
Greece skipper, Michael Skibbe, didn’t present any surprises with the players he chose to call up. What I’m happy to see is that he’s building confidence and chemistry by continuing to use the majority of the same players throughout the World Cup qualifiers, something that was lacking for Greece during their horrendous Euro Cup 2016 qualifying campaign.
Goalkeepers: Karnezis, Kapino, Glykos
Defenders: Papastathopoulos, K. Papadopoulos, Oikonomou, Stafylidis, Tzavellas, Torosidis
Midfielders: Fortounis, Samaris, Maniatis, Mantalos, Tachtsidis, Tziolis, Gianniotas, Petsos
Forwards: Mitroglou, Vellios, Diamantakos, Karelis, Bakasetas
Andreas Samaris, our best defensive-midfielder, is back after missing the two October qualifiers against Cyprus and Estonia due to injury. Greece is very thin in the midfield, so the fact that he’s back is a breath of fresh air. The concerning piece of the roster is that Greece will be without one of their two world-class center-backs, Kostas Manolas. Manolas was injured in club play and didn’t join the team for this qualifying match. The bright side is that Greece has a very capable replacement center-back in Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who’s been playing as a defensive midfielder in the qualifiers thus far. His natural position, however, is center-back, so hopefully he can fill in most of the void left by Manolas. Lastly, veteran defensive winger, Jose Cholevas, has announced his retirement from the national team following the last match against Estonia; his counter-attacking abilities will surely be missed.
World Cup Qualifiers Schedule
- 06-Sep-2016: at Gibraltar (W 4-1)
- 07-Oct-2016: vs Cyprus (W 2-0)
- 10-Oct-2016: at Estonia (W 2-0)
- 13-Nov-2016: vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina
- 25-Mar-2017: at Belgium
- 09-Jun-2017: at Bosnia-Herzegovina
- 31-Aug-2017: vs. Estonia
- 03-Sep-2017: vs. Belgium
- 07-Oct-2017: at Cyprus
- 10-Oct-2017: vs. Gibraltar
USA: Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2GO
Greece: OTE Sport TV, SKAI TV
Canada: Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet World Now
Cyprus: Cytavision Sports 1
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