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World Cup 2014 Previews, Group C: Greece

Romania v Greece - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier: Play-off Second Leg

Team: Greece
Group: C
Schedule: June 14 vs. Colombia; June 19 vs. Japan; June 24 vs. Ivory Coast
World Cup Record: 1-5-0 (Qualified in 1994 and 2010.)
Qualifying Form: Finished level on points with Bosnia atop UEFA Group G, but missed out on automatic qualification via goal difference. Greece went on to beat Romania in the playoffs.

Manager: Fernando Santos, a 69-year-old from Portugal who’s spent most this decade coaching in Greek soccer. He’s also a man who keeps the tradition of managers smoking on the sidelines alive.

Player to Watch: Sokratis Papastathopoulos was one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga this year at Borussia Dortmund. Given the dearth of quality central defenders across the board in world soccer, expect the 27-year-old’s name to hit the transfer mill soon enough.

Tactics/Style: Greece is a typical European 4-2-3-1 team. Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Samaras will play out wide to support Kostas Mitroglou. This isn’t a team that scores a lot; just 12 in 10 qualifiers. In two games against tiny Lichtenstein, Greece scored three total goals. (Lichtenstein conceded 22 in its other eight qualifiers.) Not helping matters either is Mitroglou, who was injured and ineffective — and that’s putting it kindly — following a big-money move from Olympiacos to relegated Fulham in January.

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WAG of Note: Greek gossip journalist Katerina Kainourgiou has been romantically linked to Samaras recently.

Odds of winning: 300-to-1

Which Greek forward looks like he spent the most time touring as a roadie with Ozzfest last summer: Kostas Mitroglou or Giorgos Samaras?

Olympiacos FC v Paris Saint-Germain FC - UEFA Champions League

Miscellany: 37-year-old captain Giorgos Karagounis, last seen wheezing around for relegated Fulham, is a remaining link to Greece’s Euro 2004 team. … The World Cup is the first international tournament at the senior level for 28-year-old keeper Orestis Karnezis. … Fanis Gekas is 33 years old and among the most well-traveled players in the World Cup, having played for 12 different clubs since 1998. … Greece remains relatively high on the UEFA hog, living off its upset win in Euro 2004 which has helped it in qualification seeding for the last couple World Cups and Euros — that mathematical bonus should fade shortly after this tournament concludes. … And now for something completely different.

The unofficial Greek World Cup anthem: 

(Sorry.)

Last word: Let’s leave the it to these two dudes to explain Greece’s likely World Cup fate:

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WORLD CUP PREVIEWS

GROUP A: MexicoBrazilCroatiaCameroon

GROUP B: SpainNetherlandsChileAustralia

GROUP C: ColombiaIvory CoastJapan

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