Greece created one of the
greatest upsets in international football when they won Euro 2004
after twice beating hosts Portugal, but were cagey about their
chances of starting this tournament with another famous victory
Speaking on the eve of the opening game of Euro 2012 against
co-hosts Poland in Warsaw's glittering new National Stadium,
skipper Giorgios Karagounis said he would fancy their chances
far more if "we were playing in front of 70,000 Greeks in
The 35-year-old skipper, a survivor from the 2004 squad and
a veteran of 117 internationals, told reporters on Thursday:
"This is an away match for us and I would much rather be playing
it in Athens.
"Naturally we would like to start as we did in 2004, but we
are the underdogs, I don't agree with the Poles that we are the
favourites. The reality is we are playing in front of 50,000
Polish fans who want to see their team win - they have to win,
and I hope we are not an easy target."
Greece were regarded as an easy target eight years ago when
they faced Portugal in the opening match of Euro 2004 but
stunned everyone with a 2-1 win.
Three weeks later they did the unthinkable and beat them
again, silencing the home nation with a 1-0 triumph in the final
That was Greece's last win in the finals as they lost all
three matches in 2008. However, they came through the qualifiers
unbeaten and although ranked among the outsiders again, their
achievements in 2004 prove that no one can predict the outcome
of a traditionally tight and high quality tournament.
Coach Fernando Santos, who took over from the title-winning
Otto Rehhagel, chose his words carefully when he said it was
difficult to compare the squads and the ambitions of the Greek
side in 2004 with today.
"I don't see there is a link really," he said. "I did not
take over from Otto Rehhagel in 2004, I took over in 2010. He
wrote a golden chapter in the history of Greek soccer, but he
had his philosophy and I have mine and it is hard to compare."
The 56-year-old Portuguese, who has coached Greek clubs
PAOK, AEK Athens and Panathinaikos, added: "Of course I am very
proud to succeed him, it was a great honour to take over from a
man who led Greece to three major finals.
"Right now, no one feels more Greek than me. I have great
satisfaction that we are here.
"We have a plan, we have a vision and if I can leave my mark
on this team, as Rehhagel left a mark on his, then I will have
done my job."
Santos said one factor that could work in Greece's favour
was that Poland had been playing only friendlies for the last
two years while Greece had come through a tough qualifying
"That could be significant. Poland are now playing an
official match, and hopefully all the pressure is on them."
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