Sunday, June 1, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Greece Team Preview

Less than a week to go until Euro 2008, and our previews wrap up with Group D, featuring defending champions Greece, Russia, Sweden and Spain.

The squad: Greece's stunning Euro 2004 championship was all the more remarkable considering they had never won a match in a major championship. While their failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup blunted the momentum created two years earlier, they returned to form by winning 10 of 12 Euro qualifying matches.

The players: Greece's defensive mindset led them to victory in 2004- they won all three knockout round games 1-0- and that philosophy remains. The rising star of the defensive corps is left back Vasilis Torosidis, who turns 23 on June 10. A member of Greek League champions Olympiakos, a breakout tournament could be Torosidis' ticket to a high profile European club. Veteran goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis is back in net but will be retiring following the tournament. Bayer Leverkusen striker Theofanis Gekas will be the primary offensive target.

The schedule: vs. Sweden (6/10); vs. Russia (6/14); vs. Spain (6/18)

The prediction: Greece are capable of advancing from Group D, especially if they handle Sweden in their opening match. Italy will end their bid for a repeat in the quarterfinals.

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