In this special series we bring you the local knowledge of the world’s leading football tournament. With our worldwide team of experts, each one based in the country in question – from Brazil to North Korea – you’ll hear first-hand the latest team news, exclusive interviews and fan opinions of your World Cup opponents!

1. Are you happy with your team’s preparations so far/planned preparations?  

At the moment I can say that the preparations scheduled for the Greek national team ahead of the World Cup finals in South Africa are appropriate tests. The friendly against Senegal on Wednesday is truly the squad’s first practice match since clinching a berth in the tournament via a play-off win against Ukraine in November.

2. Why do you think this opposition was chosen? Are you happy with the opposition chosen?

The match against Senegal was selected as not only a pre-tournament test but also as a chance to gauge what the Greeks should expect when face Nigeria in the group stages in South Africa. I am happy with the choice as Senegal appear to be a team that play in a style similar to Nigeria. Of course, Greece cannot read too much into the result as the mid-June meeting between Greece and Nigeria is what truly counts.

3. Is the coach under pressure to win this match? What will be the reaction if the game is lost?

The fact of the matter is that Otto Rehhagel has been in the hot seat ever since guiding Greece to European glory in 2004. Regardless of the result, the Hellenic FA will back the German to guide Greece; however, the Greek public is highly critical of the German coach as he has a tendency to choose veteran players over a young, capable players who shoud be given the chance now.

4. Any surprises in the squad? Which player who has been left out should have been selected?  

The inclusion of Pantelis Kapetanos certainly raises eyebrows despite the striker’s impressive track record with Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti. Unfortunately, the Greece U-21 side also play a competitive fixture against England on 3 March and that has prompted manager Otto Rehhagel to leave youngsters Sotiris Ninis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Koutsianikoulis and Konstantinos Mitroglou out of the line-up this time around. But they should get a call-up in Greece’s remaining friendlies.  

5. For which players is this game very important?  

Certainly the match is a crucial one for Pantelis Kapetanos as this may be one of his few chances to prove his worth at the international level. Although there is plenty of speculation that Angelos Charisteas is one of Otto Rehhagel’s favourites, his poor performances and lack of goals could make this match and the remaining matches a make-or-break situation for the Nurnberg hit-man.   

While Avraam Papadopoulos is guaranteed a spot in the final Greece roster for South Africa, his performance in the heart of the Greek defense could determine if his role at the final tournament will be in a starting position or not. Furthermore, whoever features as the goalkeeper for Greece will need to make his mark, as the starting job remains up for grabs.  

6. What issues in the team need to be addressed?

The Greeks will need to replicate the same level of organisation that shocked the world in 2004, particularly since the Greek attack struggled through the qualifiers bar Theofanis Gekas’ ten-goal campaign. Nevertheless, team chemistry will be the underlying factor that would boost both the defense and the attack should it be enhanced.  

7. What will be the result?

I believe Greece have the talent to win the match, but the encounter will be a competitive one. Senegal will be a fair test for the Greeks, and although Greece can’t really rely on the home crowd in Piraeus to give them a psychological advantage, Greece’s ability to expand on their team chemistry and tactics will certainly be a decisive factor.

Greece 2-0 Senegal.

Read the article on Goal.com

Greece – Senegal: Know Your Rivals – Experts Consider Otto Rehhagel’s Squad Selection

In this special series we bring you the local knowledge of the world’s leading football tournament. With our worldwide team of experts, each one based in the country in question – from Brazil to North Korea – you’ll hear first-hand the latest team news, exclusive interviews and fan opinions of your World Cup opponents!

1. Are you happy with your team’s preparations so far/planned preparations?  

At the moment I can say that the preparations scheduled for the Greek national team ahead of the World Cup finals in South Africa are appropriate tests. The friendly against Senegal on Wednesday is truly the squad’s first practice match since clinching a berth in the tournament via a play-off win against Ukraine in November.

2. Why do you think this opposition was chosen? Are you happy with the opposition chosen?

The match against Senegal was selected as not only a pre-tournament test but also as a chance to gauge what the Greeks should expect when face Nigeria in the group stages in South Africa. I am happy with the choice as Senegal appear to be a team that play in a style similar to Nigeria. Of course, Greece cannot read too much into the result as the mid-June meeting between Greece and Nigeria is what truly counts.

3. Is the coach under pressure to win this match? What will be the reaction if the game is lost?

The fact of the matter is that Otto Rehhagel has been in the hot seat ever since guiding Greece to European glory in 2004. Regardless of the result, the Hellenic FA will back the German to guide Greece; however, the Greek public is highly critical of the German coach as he has a tendency to choose veteran players over a young, capable players who shoud be given the chance now.

4. Any surprises in the squad? Which player who has been left out should have been selected?  

The inclusion of Pantelis Kapetanos certainly raises eyebrows despite the striker’s impressive track record with Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti. Unfortunately, the Greece U-21 side also play a competitive fixture against England on 3 March and that has prompted manager Otto Rehhagel to leave youngsters Sotiris Ninis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Koutsianikoulis and Konstantinos Mitroglou out of the line-up this time around. But they should get a call-up in Greece’s remaining friendlies.  

5. For which players is this game very important?  

Certainly the match is a crucial one for Pantelis Kapetanos as this may be one of his few chances to prove his worth at the international level. Although there is plenty of speculation that Angelos Charisteas is one of Otto Rehhagel’s favourites, his poor performances and lack of goals could make this match and the remaining matches a make-or-break situation for the Nurnberg hit-man.   

While Avraam Papadopoulos is guaranteed a spot in the final Greece roster for South Africa, his performance in the heart of the Greek defense could determine if his role at the final tournament will be in a starting position or not. Furthermore, whoever features as the goalkeeper for Greece will need to make his mark, as the starting job remains up for grabs.  

6. What issues in the team need to be addressed?

The Greeks will need to replicate the same level of organisation that shocked the world in 2004, particularly since the Greek attack struggled through the qualifiers bar Theofanis Gekas’ ten-goal campaign. Nevertheless, team chemistry will be the underlying factor that would boost both the defense and the attack should it be enhanced.  

7. What will be the result?

I believe Greece have the talent to win the match, but the encounter will be a competitive one. Senegal will be a fair test for the Greeks, and although Greece can’t really rely on the home crowd in Piraeus to give them a psychological advantage, Greece’s ability to expand on their team chemistry and tactics will certainly be a decisive factor.

Greece 2-0 Senegal.

Read the article on Goal.com

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