World Cup 2014 Preview: Greece hopes to channel '04 spirit

May 31, 2014 - 10:22 PM ( - The Greece national team reached its pinnacle in 2004 with a triumph in the European Championships.

Ten years later, the nation is trying to attain the same level of success on a much bigger stage: the World Cup.

After failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and finishing bottom of its group in Euro 2008, Greece narrowly missed out on the knockout round in 2010, finishing one point back of Group B runners-up South Korea.

Greece is not a realistic contender to win the 2014 World Cup, nor is it likely to crash out of the competition with three defeats from three group stage games.

The nation's fate likely lies somewhere in between, similar to its outcome at Euro 2012 when a superior goal difference to Russia got the Greeks out of the group stage only to get bounced form the competition in a 4-2 loss to traditional power Germany.

Greece's style of play is consistent with those of previous major tournaments: stability at the back through organization.

That mantra assisted Greece in its qualifying efforts in a run, which saw the nation concede just four goals in its 10 matches of the group stage.

The Greeks finished second in Group G behind Bosnia-Herzegovina, setting up a playoff against Romania that Fernando Santos' men won by a 4-2 aggregate score.

While Greece enters the World Cup as one of the weaker teams in the field of 32, the country was dealt a favorable draw by being placed in Group C with Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan. Quite simply, any two of the four teams have a realistic chance of advancing to the knockout round.

Giorgios Samaras will be a key figure in helping the Greeks achieve that feat. The 29-year-old striker is the most experienced player in the nation's forward stable and he is coming off club season that saw him net seven league goals for Celtic.

Giorgios Karagounis remains one of Greece's most important midfield players. He is the nation's captain, but at 37 years old, it's fair wonder how much he can contribute in a physically demanding tournament.

But the strength of the team remains its defense. Orestis Karnezis will anchor the side in goal while the like of Loukas Vyntra and Vasilis Torosidis will attempt to ensure that Karnezis has little to do.

If Greece can maintain a tight shape at the back and make life difficult for opposing offenses, a place in the knockout round isn't out of the question.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!