This Sunday, September 7, Greece will begin their journey to qualify for Euro Cup 2016, which will take place in France during the summer of 2016. This is the second largest international soccer tournament behind the World Cup, and is also played every four years.
There are a total of 53 teams trying to qualify and they are broken down into 9 groups. The top two teams from each group will automatically qualify, while some 3rd place teams will either directly qualify or enter a playoff round based on their final standing. Each team within a group will play one another twice, once at home and once away. These matches will take place between now and November 2015, and a rate of about 1 game per month.
Greece’s group (F) consists of Greece, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands. The draw is very favorable to the Greeks and the only real threat should be Romania, however Greece will still qualify with a second place finish. With their current squad though, there’s no reason why Greece can’t take first place.
Greece’s new coach, Claudio Ranieri, has finalized the squad for their first qualification match against Romania. Below are the players he chose and italics refer to players that received significant playing time during the World Cup. The squad can, and will likely, change from game to game.
Karnezis, Glykos, Kapino
Torosidis, Cholevas, Manolas, Papastathopoulos, K. Papadopoulos, Vyntra, Moras, A. Papadopoulos, Tzavellas
Kone, Christodoulopoulos, Maniatis, Samaris, Siovas, Tachtsidis, Fortounis
Samaras, Mitroglou, Salpingidis, Diamantakos, Athanasiadis
It’s still unknown as to what kind of formation Ranieri will go with, so we don’t know who the likely starters would be yet. This first game will tell us a lot about this new coach. If I had to guess though, I would say he’ll be implementing some sort of variation of a 3-5-2, with two defensive players on the wings.
Some notable mentions here are the call-ups of some young players, 21-year-olds Diamantakos and Fortounis, both whom play for Olympiakos, and 22-year-old Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who plays for German side Bayer Leverkusen. In recent games, Diamantakos has demonstrated the ability to find the back of the net, which obviously caught the attention of Ranieri. As most of you already know, Greece’s biggest problem during the World Cup was finishing attacks, so Diamantakos adds some depth to the striker corps. Papadopoulos is one of the three world class center backs that we have, and he played a crucial role in Greece’s advancement to the second round of Euro Cup 2012. It is refreshing to see that Ranieri turned to the youngsters over the “seasoned” players, which is evident in is his leaving Gekas and Katsourinis off of the squad.
What To Look For
- What will the starting formation be? This will determine which players start and will tell us a lot of how Ranieri views our team.
- How will the three center backs (K. Papadopoulos, Manolas and Papastathopoulos) be utilized? All of them can play at a world-class level.
- Who will play forward/striker?
- How does Mitroglou look?
- How much playing time, if any, will the youngsters Diamantakos and Fortounis get?
Romania vs. Greece
The last time Greece played Romania was back during qualification for this recent World Cup (2014). Greece and Romania tied for second in their qualification group, so they went to a playoff round where Greece dominated in a 4-2 aggregate score – thanks in part to 3 goals from Mitroglou. This is the Mitroglou we need to see again, and I truly believe if he gains his old form, Greece will be a force to be reckoned with.
The first qualification match against Romania is this Sunday, September 7, at 2:45 PM EST. For those of you that want to watch it, you can catch it online for free at ESPN3.com, or on the “Watch ESPN” app.
Thanasi Papoulias is a guest writer for The Pappas Post