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Greece seek redemption after Hellenic nightmare

  • Greece set for Russia 2018 play-off after tumultuous 3 years
  • Coach Michael Skibbe key in realigning crew with earlier a hit approaches
  • Meeting with Croatia marks probability to completely exorcise demons of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying

“We do not want an extra bonus, or money. We only play for Greece and its people.”

This used to be a heartening footnote to Greece mountaineering their very best height for a decade. While ache used to be the one prevalent emotion in Recife, as a shoot-out defeat lower quick their first shuttle to the knockout levels at 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, the crew’s united message to the Greek top minister beamed delight. A South American adventure to in the end cherish.

With Costa Rica attending to step out in Salvador in a ancient quarter-final, Greece are actually dreaming of tasting every other rollercoaster experience in Russia subsequent 12 months, as they get ready to fasten horns with Croatia for one in every of Europe’s 4 final tickets to the finals. However, to also be right here, after the 3 years that adopted, is one thing of an fulfillment itself.

After Brazil 2014, trainer Fernando Santos departed for filthy rich pastures together with his local Portugal, along side the likes of midfield talisman and captain Giorgos Karagounis – elderly 37 – finishing 15 years within the aspect. New boss Claudio Ranieri arrived to open this new bankruptcy.

Following on from Otto Rehhagel and Santos, Ranieri diverted from his predecessors’ extra forged, steadfast taste – regardless that his manner would after all deliver unbelievable good fortune in is subsequent function at Leicester City – starting what descended right into a catastrophic revolution.

A disjointed crew bereft of brotherly love and struggle – the important thing marble pillars protecting up their resilient acropolis – crumbled. A soulless defeat to Faroe Islands in Piraeus, his 3rd loss in 4, used to be an indiscretion too a long way.

As successors Kostas Tsanas and Sergio Markarian did not arrest the slide, they had been the primary best seeds ever in European Championship or World Cup qualification to complete backside in their team – scoring their first house purpose within the marketing campaign’s last sport.

After Santos, prior to Skibbe

  • Claudio Ranieri: Romania (loss), Finland (draw), Northern Ireland (L), Faroe Islands (L)
  • Kostas Tsanas (caretaker): Serbia (L)
  • Sergio Markarian: Hungary (D), Faroe Islands (L), Poland (D)
  • Tsanas: Finland (L), Romania (D), Northern Ireland (L), Hungary (win)

Enter Michael Skibbe. Owing Rehhagel’s legacy to the rationale the Greek FA grew to become to every other German, admitting to FIFA.com that it “was certainly a reason, if not the main reason”, the runaway teach took time to sluggish. Defeat by way of Luxembourg confirmed the problem he confronted.

“I believe in good discipline and strong tactical awareness on the pitch,” Skibbe had stated. “That was the foundation for Greece’s strongest years in the 2000s and their EURO win, and that’s what we want to return to.” With 3 wins from 4 Russia 2018 qualifiers, handiest an 89th minute from Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku averted them leaving with all 3 issues – appearing Skibbe had completed that purpose impressively in little over a 12 months.

Six of the aspect that began in Brussels additionally featured within the disarray towards the Faroes – with first selection keeper Oscar Karnezis out injured, too – appearing evolution, somewhat than revolution, used to be precisely what they’d wanted.

Now, they arguably face their hardest check since that sport with their play-off double-header with Croatia. Skibbe expects their defensive popularity – constructed now at the foundations of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kostas Manolas – to be key, specifically with Zagreb their first vacation spot.

“It is maybe good to have the second match at home. You can have more defensive tactics if you’re playing away and then you can look at what’s going on in the second match,” he informed FIFA.com after the play-off draw.

“Playing offensive football they are quite good, but most of the time we are good at defending, so we will see what happens on the pitch.”

Had you presented Greece lovers this situation two years in the past, you might had been arduous pressed to seek out one that wouldn’t have taken it.

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