Greece who are the bottom of Group A take on group leaders Russia, on Saturday, June 16, 2012, raising the prospect of an entertaining game in which Dick Advocaat’s wards are likely to attack from the starting whistle to put their qualification past the group stage beyond doubt. Also, topping the group would assure them of a relatively weaker opponent in the quarter-finals, with the second place team of Group A set to face Germany.
Russia who have virtually qualified, owing to a win a draw in their previous games, could turn out to be the surprise packet of the competition going by the evidence of their first two games. By contrast, Greece, who won the tournament in 2004, have just one point from their previous two games but still have a mathematical chance of getting to the quarter-finals.
Russia’s goal scoring hero has been Alan Dzagoev who will turn 22 on Sunday, and has already scored three of the five goals his side have registered in their two games. Russia’s back line is their Achilles heel and they would want to hold string against a Greek side known to park the bus once they are ahead. Also, Greece’s best chance will be on counters, Malafeev who has conceded twice will want to keep a clean slate.
Greece’s back line is itself likely to be under fire from the start with the pair of Dzagoev and Arshavin having tormented both the Czech and Polish defences in their previous games. Michalis Sifakis is likely to replace injured first keeper Konstantinos Chalkias. Greece’s attack will be spearheaded by Samaras, with assistance from Salpingidis and Fortounis.
Arshavin in the Russian midfield appears to have recovered his form that deserted him while representing Arsenal in the English Premier League. The Russian skipper was instrumental in his side’s rout of the Czech Republic, and his performance will be key to his team’s fortunes on Saturday.
From the Greek persective, all eyes will be on Georgios Samaras, the Celtic striker who has yet to score in the tournament. Particularly strong in counter attack moves, the tall striker could test the Russian defence in his bid to take Greece past the group stage on a head-to-head ruling.
Russia’s probable eleven:Malafeev, Anyukov, Ignashevich, Berezutskiy, Zhirkov, Shiroov, Denisov, Zyryanov, Arshavin, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov.
Greece’s probable eleven: Sifakis, Torosidis, Papdopoulos, Katsouranis, Holebas, Maniatis, Fotakis, Karagounis, Fortounis, Salpingidis, Samaras.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.