Greece national football team

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Greece
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Ethniki (National)
Piratiko (The Pirate Ship)
Galanolefki (Sky blue-white)
Association Hellenic Football Federation (HFF)
Ελληνική Ποδοσφαιρική Ομοσπονδία
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Fernando Santos
Asst coach Leonidas Vokolos
Captain Giorgos Karagounis
Most caps Giorgos Karagounis (132)
Top scorer Nikos Anastopoulos (29)
Home stadium Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
FIFA code GRE
FIFA ranking 10
Highest FIFA ranking 8 (April 2008 – June 2008; October 2011)
Lowest FIFA ranking 66 (September 1998)
Elo ranking 17
Highest Elo ranking 7 (August 2004)
Lowest Elo ranking 78 (May 1963 and November 1963)
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Greece 1–4 Italy 
(Athens, Greece; 7 April 1929)
Biggest win
 Greece 8–0 Syria 
(Athens, Greece; 25 November 1949)
Biggest defeat
 Hungary 11–1 Greece 
(Budapest, Hungary; 25 March 1938)
World Cup
Appearances 3 (First in 1994)
Best result Round 1, 1994 and 2010
European Championship
Appearances 4 (First in 1980)
Best result Winners Gold medal icon.svg : 2004
Olympics
Appearances 3 (First in 1920)
Best result Round 1: 1920, 1952, 2004
Confederations Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 2005)
Best result Round 1, 2005

The Greek national football team (Greek: Εθνική Ελλάδος, Ethniki Ellados) represents Greece in association football and is controlled by the Hellenic Football Federation, the governing body for football in Greece. Greece's home ground is Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus and their head coach is Fernando Santos. Greece is one of the most successful national teams in European football, being one of only nine national teams to have won the European Championship.

They hadn't produced any big successes in major tournaments, having participated only twice in the final tournaments of the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship, in 1994 and 1980 respectively, until UEFA Euro 2004, when they became European champions in only their second participation in the tournament. The Greeks, dismissed as rank outsiders before the tournament with bookmakers giving odds of between 80–1 to 150–1 for them to win, defeated some of the favourites in the competition including defending champions France and hosts Portugal, who Greece beat in both the opening game of the tournament and again in the final.

Since that victory Greece have qualified for the finals of all but one major competitions (European Championships and World Cups), reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. Moreover, they have occupied a place in the top 20 of the FIFA World Rankings for all but four months since the 2004 triumph, and reached a high of eighth from April to June 2008, as well as in October 2011.

History[edit]

The national team for the Inter-Allied Games in Paris, 1919
Greek squad for the 1920 Olympics
Greece in 1929

1980 European Football Championship[edit]

Greece, under the guidance of Alketas Panagoulias, made its first appearance in a major tournament at the Euro 1980 in Italy, after qualifying top of a group that included the Soviet Union and Hungary, both world football powers. In the final tournament, Greece was drawn into group A with West Germany, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia. In their first game, Greece held the Dutch until the only goal of the game was scored with a penalty kick by Kist, in the 65th minute. Three days later Greece played Czechoslovakia in Rome. After holding the Czechoslovakians 1–1 at the end the first half, Greece eventually lost 3–1. In their last game, Greece earned a 0–0 draw against eventual winners West Germany, concluding what was considered a decent overall performance in the team's maiden presence in a final phase of any football competition.

World Cup 1994[edit]

The team's success in qualifying for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, marked the first time they had made it to the FIFA World Cup finals. Greece finished first and undefeated in their qualifying group, surpassing Russia in the final game. In the final tournament Greece were drawn into Group D with Nigeria, Bulgaria, and Argentina. After the successful qualifying campaign, expectations back in Greece were high as no one could imagine the oncoming astounding failure. Most notable reason for this complete failure was the fact that legendary coach Alketas Panagoulias opted to take a squad full of those players – though most of them aging and out of form – that helped the team in the qualifying instead of new emerging talents seeing it as a reward for their unprecedented success. Furthermore, they had the disadvantage of being drawn into a "group of death", with runners-up at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Argentina, later semifinalists Bulgaria, and Nigeria, one of the strongest African teams. It is worth mentioning that all players of the squad, including the 3 goalkeepers, took part in those three games, something very rare. In their first game against Argentina, Greece lost 4–0. Four days later Greece suffered another 4–0 blow from Bulgaria and in their final game lost to Nigeria 2–0. In the end, Greece were eliminated in the first round by losing all three games, scoring no goals and conceding 10, thus making one of the worst records in World Cup history.

Near misses[edit]

Greece failed to qualify for the Euro 1996 finishing third in the group behind Russia and Scotland. In their 1998 World Cup qualifying tournament the team finished only one point shy of second-placed Croatia after a 0–0 draw by the eventual Group winners, the Danish national football team. In their Euro 2000 qualifying group, Greece finished again in third place, two points behind second-placed Slovenia in a highly disappointing campaign that saw the team lose at home to Latvia and led to the sacking of then national coach Kostas Polychroniou. In the 2002 World Cup qualifying Greece finished a disappointing fourth in their group behind England, Germany and Finland, which led to the sacking of coach Vasilis Daniil, replaced by Otto Rehhagel. Highlights of the campaign included a 5–1 defeat in Finland and the 2–2 draw that followed in England, both the first two games of the soon to become legendary German coach at the reins of the Greek national team.

Euro 2004 triumph[edit]

Greece line-up during Euro 2004

Qualification[edit]

Greece started the qualification process for the Euro 2004 in poor fashion losing at home to Spain and away to Ukraine both times with a 2–0 scoreline. Astonishingly, the team went on to win their remaining six games, including a highly decisive 1–0 away win over Spain in their second matchup, securing first place in the group and an appearance in the European Championship finals for the first time in 24 years.

Group stage[edit]

In the opening match against hosts Portugal, Greece achieved a surprise 2–1 victory, receiving the nickname "pirate ship" used by Greek sportscasters in reference to the floating ship used in the tournament's opening ceremony. Greece won with a 25-yard strike from Giorgos Karagounis and a penalty from Angelos Basinas. Four days later, Greece stunned Spain in front of a largely Spanish crowd with a 1–1 draw after being down 1–0 at half time. Greece fell behind from a defensive lapse, which allowed Fernando Morientes to score. However, a sublime diagonal pass from playmaker Vasilios Tsiartas allowed Angelos Charisteas to score an equaliser in the second half, giving Greece hope of qualifying. In the last group game, Greece fell behind 2–0 to Russia (who were already eliminated) within the first ten minutes of the game but managed to pull one back through Zisis Vryzas and thus progressed to the next round, at the expense of Spain, on goals scored. Dmitri Kirichenko had the chance to eliminate Greece in the final minutes of this game, but his stretched effort squeezed just wide.

Quarter-final[edit]

In the quarterfinals Greece faced off with the undefeated and reigning champions France. At 65 minutes, Greece took the lead. Angelos Basinas played a perfect pass to captain Theodoros Zagorakis, who flicked the ball high in the air, past veteran French defender Bixente Lizarazu, and sent a perfect cross to Angelos Charisteas for the header and goal. Greece held on to win despite a late French onslaught, with close efforts from Thierry Henry, thus knocking France out of Euro 2004 and becoming the first team ever to defeat both the hosts and defending champions in the same tournament.

Semi-final[edit]

Greece reached the semifinals to face the Czech Republic, who were the only team to defeat all of their opponents to that point. The Czech record included a convincing 3–2 win over the Netherlands, a 2–1 win over Germany, and a 3–0 win over Denmark in the quarterfinals. At this stage in the tournament, the Czechs were favourites to take the trophy. The game began nervously for Greece, as the Czech Republic applied much pressure. Tomáš Rosický hit the crossbar in the opening minutes, and Jan Koller had several efforts saved by Antonis Nikopolidis. The Czechs chances were dealt a blow when influential midfielder Pavel Nedvěd left the pitch injured in the first half. After 90 minutes the game ended 0–0, despite the Czechs having most of the game's missed chances. In the last minute of the first half of extra time, a close range silver goal header from Traianos Dellas from a Vassilios Tsiartas corner ended the Czech campaign, putting Greece into the final of Euro 2004 and sending their fans into raptures.

Final[edit]

Angelos Charisteas scoring Greece's winning goal in the Euro 2004 final.

For the first time in history, the final was a repeat of the opening game, with Greece and hosts Portugal facing off in a rematch. In the 57th minute, Charisteas gave Greece the lead with a header from a corner by Angelos Basinas. Portugal had much of the possession, but the Greek defence was solid and dealt with most attacks. Cristiano Ronaldo had a good chance to equalise in the dying moments, but could not apply a finish. Greece held on to win 1–0, winning the tournament, an achievement considered by many to be one of the greater, if not the greatest, football upset in history. Captain Zagorakis was named the man of the tournament, having led Greece and made the most tackles in the entire tournament.

Recognition[edit]

Greece's victory shot them up in the FIFA World Rankings from 35th in June 2004 to 14th in July 2004. This is one of the largest upward moves in a single month in the top echelon of the rankings. The triumph of Greece at Euro 2004 is the biggest sporting achievement in the country's history for a men's team sport, along with the successes of the Greece national basketball team in the European Championships of 1987, 2005 and 2006 FIBA World Championship. The team has appeared on stamps and received medals from Konstantinos Stephanopoulos (the President of Greece), Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, and an ecstatic ovation from the country's population which came out to see the team with the trophy from the Athens airport to the Panathinaiko Stadium where the Greek political and religious leadership was awaiting them. The Euro 2004 winners were selected as "World Team of the Year" at the 2005 Laureus World Sports Award for Team of the Year.

2005 Confederations Cup[edit]

As Euro 2004 winners, Greece qualified for the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany. Greece were drawn into Group B along with 2002 World Cup champions Brazil, 2004 Asian champions Japan, and 2003 North America champions Mexico. Greece lost 3–0 to Brazil and 1–0 to Japan and draw 0–0 with Mexico in a tournament that was seen mostly as a time for experimentation as players like Stathis Tavlaridis, Loukas Vyntra, Mihalis Sifakis, Ioannis Amanatidis, and Theofanis Gekas either received their first ever calls or earned their maiden caps in the national squad.

2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying[edit]

After winning the Euro 2004, Greece were considered favourites to top their group, in the 2006 World Cup qualification. The team was drawn into Group 2 along with Ukraine, Turkey, Denmark, Albania, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

In their first qualifier, Greece could not handle the game with Albania and lost 2–1. Afterward their matches were followed by draws (home and away respectively) with Turkey and Ukraine, before defeating Kazakhstan 3–1 at home. It was thought that the team was back on course as the 2–1 win over Denmark, with Zagorakis scoring his first ever goal in over 100 caps. This was followed by wins against Georgia and Albania and a respectable away draw with Turkey. However, despite dominating the game, Greece lost at home to Ukraine 1–0 having two goals disallowed. Three months later, Greece barely escaped embarrassment as they scraped to a 2–1 away win against Kazakhstan in the dying seconds. Greece was defeated 1–0 by Denmark in Copenhagen as chances for a qualification through a playoff looked dismal after a 1–0 win of Turkey in Kiev against the already qualified Ukrainian side. In their last game, Greece defeated Georgia finishing 4th, four points behind first-placed Ukraine and two behind Turkey. Throughout the match, the 30,000 fans in the Karaiskakis Stadium chanted the name of Otto Rehhagel in their utmost support and he said afterwards "Even if 10 years pass, part of my heart will be Greek". There was a dissatisfaction with the selection of the team by Otto Rehhagel throughout qualification campaign from some journalists as they argued that he was sticking to exactly the same Euro 2004 squad even though some players didn't even have a club and was overlooking others most notably Ieroklis Stoltidis of Olympiacos and Akis Zikos of AS Monaco.

On 25 May 2006, less than a month before the opening of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Greece lost 1–0 to Australia in a friendly match in front of 95,103 people at the MCG in Melbourne.

Euro 2008[edit]

Greece vs Spain in Red Bull Arena during UEFA Euro 2008

Greece was the highest ranked seed in the 'pots' for qualification to the UEFA Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria and was drawn with Turkey, Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Moldova and Malta being the only group which did not have a team represented in the World Cup 2006.

Greece began their Euro 2008 campaign with victories over Moldova, Norway and Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a result, Greece climbed eighteen places in two months to 13th place in the October FIFA World Rankings. On 24 March 2007, Greece lost their fourth game 4–1 against Turkey in Athens. Nevertheless the team went on to win away to Malta, with the only goal coming in the 66th minute from an Basinas penalty, Hungary and Moldova at home and drew 2–2 away to Norway despite having hit the goalpost three times in this match. The draw in Oslo was followed by a 3–2 home win against Bosnia-Herzegovina and a 1–0 away win to Turkey, securing its presence to the Euro 2008 finals at their old rival's home ground. In the last two matches, Greece smashed Malta 5–0 in Athens and defeated Hungary with an away 2–1 win, finishing first in their group with a total of 31 points, the most points gained among any group. In the draw for the final tournament, Greece was seeded first as the defending European Champion. In addition to this, Greece climbed to the 11th place in the FIFA World Rankings, the highest ever for them, thus they are seeded first for the draw of the European qualification zone for the World Cup 2010, also for the first time. The draw for the Euro 2008 finals was held on 2 December in Switzerland, Greece were drawn in Group D along with Sweden, Spain, and Russia. In preparation for the tournament, Greece defeated Portugal 2–1 on 26 March 2008, in a repeat of the Euro 2004 opening and final match; as a result, Greece moved up to a record eighth position in the FIFA world ranking.

In the tournament finals, however, the Greek team lost all three games and scored only one goal. Greece underperformed in the opening match against Sweden and lost 2–0. They tried to recover in the match against Russia, but lost 1–0. Having already been eliminated, the Greek team tried their chances against already qualified Spain, but also lost 2–1, becoming the first defending champion not to earn a single point in the next European Championship.

2010 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Despite the scoring prowess of Europe's top 2010 World Cup qualifying goal-scorer Theofanis Gekas—who produced 10 goals in as many games—Greece took second place to Switzerland in Group 2 of UEFA qualification, thus advancing to a home-and-away playoff round, where they faced Ukraine. After a scoreless draw at home in the first match, the second leg in Donetsk saw Greece triumph with a 1–0 win, sending the Greeks to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. At the 2010 World Cup draw in Cape Town, South Africa on 4 December 2009, Greece found itself grouped with two familiar opponents from its first World Cup appearance in 1994. Argentina and Nigeria were yet again drawn into group stage play alongside Greece, this time into Group B with South Korea replacing Greece's third 1994 opponent, Bulgaria.

In its World Cup opener, Greece lost 2–0 to South Korea after a dismal performance characterized by excessive long-ball attacks and a lack of offensive creativity. In its second fixture against Nigeria, Greece won 2–1 coming from behind after conceding an early goal. Dimitris Salpingidis scored Greece's first ever goal in the World Cup finals in the 44th minute of the first half to tie the match at 1–1. Vasilis Torosidis scored the game-winning goal in the 71st minute, securing the first points and first victory for Greece in tournament history. In the third match against heavily favored Argentina, Greece needed a combination of results to advance to the next round. As expected, in what would be his final game as Greece's national team head coach, Otto Rehhagel conjured up a very defensive-minded strategy, leaving Giorgos Samaras with nearly all offensive responsibilities as the lone striker. The strategy nearly paid off in the second half with the score still knotted 0–0 when Samaras beat the last Argentine defender on a quick long-ball counterattack and curled a rushed shot just wide of the far post. The Greeks held the Argentines scoreless until the 77th minute and ultimately lost 2–0, finishing third in Group B.

Greece moved from 13th to 12th in the FIFA World Rankings following the tournament. Russia, Croatia and France dropped lower than Greece while Uruguay and Chile jumped ahead of the Greeks.

Transition from Rehhagel to Santos[edit]

Greece on 17 November 2010

Twenty-four hours removed from Greece's World Cup loss to Argentina, Otto Rehhagel stepped away from his post as Greek national team manager.[1] Eight days later a new era in Greek soccer was ushered in as the Hellenic Football Federation named former AEK Athens and PAOK boss Fernando Santos the new manager.[2] Under Santos the Greeks immediately went to work on an unprecedented streak of success, setting a senior-club record by going unbeaten in Santos's first seventeen matches as manager. While Greece's proficiency in stifling opposition attacks seemed to wane toward the end of Rehhagel's tenure, the emergence of Santos seemed to galvanize Greek defending once more. Through seven international friendlies and ten Euro 2012 qualifiers, the Greeks kept nine clean sheets and conceded just one goal in each of the remaining eight contests. From start to end of their unbeaten run, Santos's national side moved from #12 to #8 in FIFA's world rankings, equaling the highest mark in history credited by FIFA to Greece. Only one match from their streak featured a team (other than Greece) that appeared at the 2010 World Cup—a 1–0 defeat of Serbia in Belgrade.

Euro 2012[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Greece played against Germany for a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2012 but they were eliminated after a 4–2 loss in the quarter-final match

With its late-game comeback victory over Georgia in October 2011, Greece padded its historic football tournament résumé, most importantly by sealing an automatic berth into UEFA's 2012 European Football Championship tournament. For the second time in team history the national side won its qualifying group for a major football tournament without a single loss incurred, as Greece also went undefeated in 1994 World Cup qualifiers. Adding to its 1980, 2004 and 2008 Euro qualifying campaigns, the Georgia triumph marked the fifth time overall that Greece has won its qualification group for a major tournament. Although their tendency to produce positive results remained steady throughout qualifying, so too did the Greeks' proclivity to start games slowly and forfeit early goals. This habit would plague the Greeks through qualifying and eventually tarnish their Euro 2012 performances.

Over two qualifying contests, Greece trailed Georgia on the scoreboard for 130 of 180 minutes and still managed to grab four of six possible points in the standings by way of three late tallies. Goals scored in the dying minutes of games, often coming from defenders, became somewhat of a Greek signature on Group F's table. In fact Greece was able to take and keep a first-half lead just once in ten games, a 3–1 home defeat of Malta which was ranked 50th of 53 teams in Europe. In Malta, a last-second tie-breaking strike from defender Vasilis Torosidis pocketed a crucial extra two points in the standings for Greece, the same number of points it held over Croatia at the end of qualifying. Despite allowing weaker teams in the group to bring the game to them, the Greeks admirably held powerful Croatia scoreless through two meetings and deservedly won Group F four days after a decisive 2–0 home win versus the second-place Croats. Theofanis Gekas, who retired from national team service in 2010 after Fernando Santos's third game as manager, came out of retirement in time to contribute a goal to the result. Gekas was eventually included in Santos's 23-man Euro 2012 roster, leaving out Euro 2004 hero Angelos Charisteas who scored the group-clinching goal in the aforementioned Greek qualifying victory in Georgia.

Group stage in Poland[edit]

"Shades of 2004" was a commonly perceived theme regarding the buildup to Euro 2012 for the Greeks and their progression through the tournament. As in 2004 Greece was drawn into the same group as the host nation, Poland on this occasion, and was tasked with handling the pressure of playing in the tournament's opening match. Two familiar foes from its 2004 championship run, Russia and Czech Republic, joined Greece and Poland in Group A on 2 December 2011 at the tournament's final draw in Kiev, Ukraine. Upon drawing the lowest-ranked teams from Pots 1 and 2 as well as the second-lowest from Pot 4, Greece's prospects of passing the group stage at Euro 2012 were given a boost.

Ideas of steering "To Piratiko" to a dream start in host-nation territory as Greece did in Portugal eight years before turned into anything but during the opening match's first half. From the outset the Greeks appeared uncomfortable holding the ball for long spells and content to allow host Poland to push numbers forward with the ball in anticipation of Greek counterattacks. However Poland made the most of its early possession, as top scorer Robert Lewandowski converted a header from an endline cross past a scurrying Kostas Chalkias. Hope and momentum continued to tip in favor of Poland when Sokratis Papastathopoulos received his second yellow card of the game in just the 44th minute from Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo. The Greeks however began to take the game over after halftime while playing down a man. Dimitris Salpingidis made the greatest impact on the game for Greece as a second-half substitute, making brilliant penetrating runs behind the Polish defense, bringing the game level 1–1 on a mistake by Poland keeper Wojciech Szczęsny and equalizing the playing field for the Greeks when Szczęsny made a red-card foul on Salpingidis' breakaway attempt on goal in the 68th minute. Greece's captain Giorgos Karagounis's subsequent penalty kick was turned away by substitute keeper Przemysław Tytoń. A second goal by Salpingidis was whistled off as he was assisted by an offside Kostas Fortounis, denying Greece's best opportunity to take three points from what ended as an improbable 1–1 draw.

The Czech Republic exploited Greece's weakness at the left-defender position early in the second group stage match, notching two goals in the first six minutes. Just as Poland had, the Czechs repeatedly penetrated the Greek back line behind left-side defender Jose Cholevas, scoring on a through-ball and a cross from Cholevas's side. Petr Cech's gaffe on a Georgios Samaras cross in the second half turned into a gift goal for Theofanis Gekas. The Czechs relented on their early full-field pressure, opting to sit back and guard their lead for much of the second half, but Gekas' goal was too little too late. Greece lost the match 2–1, placing them at the foot of Group A in need of a victory over the attack-minded Russians to advance to the knockout rounds.

After thrashing the Czech Republic 4–1 and displaying more offensive potency in a 1–1 draw with Poland, the Russians were favored to earn the one point they needed to advance against the Greeks. Greece delivered a trademark 1–0 defensive victory and advanced to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. The Greeks got another tournament goal when Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich errantly headed a Greece throw-in behind the Russian defense for Giorgos Karagounis to pounce on. Greece's captain sprinted in on goal and struck the ball far-post under keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev in first-half stoppage time to send the Russians reeling into the locker rooms. Ignashevich appeared to have conceded an additional golden scoring opportunity for Greece upon tripping Karagounis in the Russian penalty area early in the second half, but referee Jonas Eriksson instead booked Karagounis for what he believed to be simulation. This being Karagounis's second yellow card of the tournament, Greece was to be without its suspended captain in the next round. With that victory, Greece qualified to the quarterfinals for a second time after their successful Euro 2004 campaign.

Quarter-finals[edit]

In the quarter-finals, Greece met with a Germany side that won all three of its group matches against Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands. Greece applied very little pressure in the midfield in the opening period, slowing the tempo of the game and affording the Germans the majority of possession. Young Sotiris Ninis switched off momentarily in defence, allowing German captain Philipp Lahm to cut infield and open the scoring with a long distance strike. Yet the Greeks remained calm as in Giorgos Samaras they carried a constant threat. On the counter-attack they pulled level early in the second half. Regaining possession in their defensive third, Giorgos Fotakis found Dimitris Salpingidis streaking 40 yards deep into German territory. Salpingidis delivered a ball five yards in front of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer which Giorgos Samaras was able to meet and power underneath Neuer for the equalizer. Twenty minutes later, the Germans led 4–1. Greece scored an 89th minute penalty kick by Salpingidis. The match ended 4–2 to the Germans and Greece's Euro 2012 campaign was over.

Greek national team in 2013

2014 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Team
Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 8 1 1 30 6 +24 25
 Greece 10 8 1 1 12 4 +8 25
 Slovakia 10 3 4 3 11 10 +1 13
 Lithuania 10 3 2 5 9 11 −2 11
 Latvia 10 2 2 6 10 20 −10 8
 Liechtenstein 10 0 2 8 4 25 −21 2
  Bosnia and Herzegovina Greece Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Slovakia
Bosnia and Herzegovina  3–1 4–1 4–1 3–0 0–1
Greece  0–0 1–0 2–0 2–0 1–0
Latvia  0–5 1–2 2–0 2–1 2–2
Liechtenstein  1–8 0–1 1–1 0–2 1–1
Lithuania  0–1 0–1 2–0 2–0 1–1
Slovakia  1–2 0–1 2–1 2–0 1–1

To reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Greece had to contend with a team on the rise in Bosnia and a dangerous Slovakian side seemingly in decline since its memorable 2010 World Cup qualifying and finals performances. Latvia, a familiar qualification foe for Greece in its previous two major tournaments (2010 World Cup, Euro 2012), joined the fray as well. Ahead of those aforesaid tournaments, Bosnia twice narrowly missed out on its first major international tournament appearance due to consecutive playoff defeats at the hands of Portugal. No playoff would be necessary for Bosnia in 2013 as it won its qualifying group over Greece on goal differential. The decisive match was in Bosnia on 22 March, when Greece succumbed to three restart goals (two free-kick headers and one penalty miss rebound) in a 3–1 defeat. Greece's defense proved rigid throughout qualifying, conceding zero goals over the flow of play. Four goals were allowed by the Greeks in ten games, the first of which was a penalty by Latvia, and yet four goals were too many for a relatively unproductive Greek attack to overcome. Though Greece was shut out just once, the team managed to score 12 goals, an output Bosnia reached in its second game.

2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying play-offs:

Group G Agg. Group D 1st leg 2nd leg
Greece  4–2  Romania 3–1 1–1

Following group play Romania, which claimed second place over Hungary and Turkey in a group dominated by the Dutch, awaited Greece in a two-legged playoff. The last time the two sides met in late 2011, Romania came into Greece and dealt Fernando Santos his first defeat as Greece manager in his 18th game at the helm. The Greeks reversed the prior 3–1 result in their favor this time, converting each goal on skillful one-touch passing and finishing. Kostas Mitroglou accounted for three of Greece's four goals in a 4–2 aggregate playoff victory, though none were actual game-winners. Dimitris Salpingidis notched the game winner in Piraeus while the second leg finished 1–1 in Bucharest.

Group C[edit]

Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
 Colombia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 Greece 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 Ivory Coast 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Stadiums[edit]

In total, Greece has used the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium more than any other stadium. Specifically it took Greece 33 years to play a home match in a stadium other than the aforementioned stadium in Alexandras Avenue. The first stadium used for that occasion was the Nikos Goumas Stadium in Nea Philadelphia, Athens. Then in 1964, the old Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium was used for the first time. In 1966, Greece used a stadium in the "simprotevousa" (Thessaloniki), being the first stadium outside Athens (including Piraeus) to be used. The stadium in question was the Kaftanzoglio Stadium. In the mid-1960s, the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium became the main home ground with occasional visits to the Nikos Goumas, Apostolos Nikolaidis and Kaftantzogleio stadiums. In 1975, a fifth stadium was added to this line-up. This was PAOK stadium in Toumba, Thessaloniki. And then, in 1976, the Kostas Davourlis Stadium, then called Panachaiki Stadium, was used, being the first stadium of the "eparchia" (areas excluding Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki) to be used, as it is located in Patras. Later that year, the Anthi Karagianni Stadium (under the name of Ethniko Stadion Kavala, meaning: National Stadium of Kavala) had the honour of hosting the country's National team. 1977 saw Thessalonika's third and the country's eighth(!) national stadium, in the form of the Kleanthis Vikelides Stadium, which up until 2004 was known as "Gipedon Areos". In 1982, the Georgios Kamaras Stadium was next in line to host a Galanolefki home match.

On 1 December 1982, the Spyros Louis Olympic Stadium, Greece's largest to date stadium housed the national team for the first time. Nearing the end of the same month, the Zosimades Stadium hosted a friendly match with Greece's sister nation, Cyprus. The national team's first home match of 1983 was played at the Alcazar Stadium. 1987 saw a 3,700 seater stadium, the Diagoras Stadium in Rhodes host a match with the Netherlands. Despite all these additions, the Olympic Stadium was the team's Constantinople, for it had acquired the role of main Home Stadium from the Leoforos Stadium, much like Constantinople became the Roman Empire's new capital, replacing Rome. And 1990 saw a new addition. This stadium turned Patras into the third city to have more than one national stadium. It was the Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. December of that year saw the addition of the Volos Municipal Stadium to the line-up of stadiums to have hosted a national team's home match. And then in 1992, the Messiniakos Ground, seating 5,163 spectators and located in Kalamata, became the second smallest stadium to host a home game of the National Team. It took a long time, 66 years (1929–1995), for Crete to host such a game. Word goes for the Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium, home of OFI. In 1996, the Chalkida Municipal Stadium was selected to "join the club". The year 1999m saw the addition of the Xanthi Ground to this list. Also that year, the Kilkis National Stadium, the Kozani Stadium and the Trikala Municipal Stadium were added to the line-up. The first addition of the 21st century was the Kaisariani Municipal Stadium in 2001. 2002 featured the addition of the Alexandroupoli Municipal Stadium. In 2004, to celebrate the opening of the Pankritio Stadium, Greece played the first of a series of matches in that stadium. In 2011, they used the AEL FC Arena for an international friendly. Since 2004 the main home ground has been the New Karaiskakis Stadium.

Kit[edit]

Greece's home kit since the Hellenic Football Federation was first established was blue, but after Greece's triumph at Euro 2004 they changed their home kit from blue to white. The team wears either a set of white jerseys, shorts and socks or a set of blue jerseys, shorts and socks. A combination of a blue jersey and white shorts has also been used in some matches. The official shirt supplier is Nike which has signed a multi-year, multi-million euro deal to wear Nike from 7 June 2013 against Lithuania.

Before that briefly the Greece's former suppliers were Adidas (2003–2013),[3] Lotto (1998–2001), Le Coq Sportif (2001–2003),[4] Diadora (1992–1998), Puma (until 1990) and ASICS (Euro 1980). As of 7 June 2013 Nike took over the sponsorship rights of the Greek national football team.

Historical kits[edit]

1929 (H)
1970's (H)
1979 (H)
1982-1984 (H)
1987–1989 (H)
1989 (H)
1992-1993 (H)
1998 (H)
1998 (A)
2000 (H)
2000 (A)
2006-2007 (H)
2006-2007 (A)

Nicknames[edit]

Traditionally, Greece is referred to by the media and the Greeks in general simply as Ethniki, which means National. The team is often called Galanolefki (Sky blue-white) due to its kit colours which are also the colours of the Greek flag. Both nicknames are used for the country's national teams in other sports as well. During the opening ceremony in the UEFA Euro 2004, which took place before the inaugural game of the tournament between Greece and hosts Portugal, a replica of a 16th century ship was used referring to the Portuguese expeditions of that time. Greek radio sports journalist Georgios Helakis commented that "since the Portuguese team appear in such a ship, it's time for us to become pirates and steal the victory". Eventually, Greece beat the hosts and Piratiko (The Pirate Ship) emerged as the new nickname of the team, repeated at every win. Especially after the Greek win in the final to Portugal, the new nickname was established to commemorate their coronation as European champions.

Competitive record[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup Qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D * L GF GA Position Pld W D * L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter Did not enter
Italy 1934 Did not qualify - 1 0 0 1 0 4
France 1938 - 3 2 0 1 5 12
Brazil 1950 Did not enter Did not enter
Switzerland 1954 Did not qualify 2 4 2 0 2 3 2
Sweden 1958 3 4 0 1 3 2 9
Chile 1962 3 4 1 0 3 3 8
England 1966 3 6 2 1 3 10 14
Mexico 1970 2 6 2 3 1 13 9
West Germany 1974 3 4 0 0 4 5 11
Argentina 1978 3 4 1 1 2 2 6
Spain 1982 4 8 3 1 4 11 14
Mexico 1986 3 6 1 2 3 5 10
Italy 1990 3 6 1 2 3 3 15
United States 1994 Group Stage 24 3 0 0 3 0 10 1 8 6 2 0 10 2
France 1998 Did not qualify 3 8 4 2 2 11 4
South Korea Japan 2002 4 8 2 1 5 7 17
Germany 2006 3 12 6 3 3 15 9
South Africa 2010 Group Stage 25 3 1 0 2 2 5 Playoffs 12 7 3 2 21 10
Brazil 2014 Qualified - - - - - - - Playoffs 12 9 2 1 16 6
Total 3/20 6 1 0 5 2 15 Total 116 49 24 43 142 162
* Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

UEFA European Championship[edit]

Greeks celebrating the victory in the 2004 European Championship
UEFA European Football Championship record UEFA European Football Championship Qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D * L GF GA Position Pld W D * L GF GA
France 1960 Did not qualify Preliminary Round 2 0 1 1 2 8
Spain 1964 Did not enter Did not enter
Italy 1968 Did not qualify 2 6 2 2 2 8 9
Belgium 1972 3 6 1 1 4 3 8
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976 2 6 2 3 1 12 9
Italy 1980 Group Stage 8 3 0 1 2 1 4 1 6 2 3 1 13 7
France 1984 Did not qualify 3 8 3 2 3 8 10
West Germany 1988 2 8 4 1 3 12 13
Sweden 1992 3 8 3 2 3 11 9
England 1996 3 10 6 0 4 23 9
Belgium Netherlands 2000 3 10 4 3 3 13 8
Portugal 2004 Champions 1 6 4 1 1 7 4 1 8 6 0 2 8 4
Austria Switzerland 2008 Group Stage 16 3 0 0 3 1 5 1 12 10 1 1 25 10
Poland Ukraine 2012 Quarter-Finals 7 4 1 1 2 5 7 1 10 7 3 0 14 5
France 2016 - - 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 4/14 16 5 3 8 14 20 Total 100 50 22 28 152 109
* Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

FIFA Confederations Cup[edit]

Year Round GP W D L GS GA
South Korea Japan 2001 Did Not Qualify
France 2003
Germany 2005 Group Stage 3 0 1 2 0 4
South Africa 2009 Did Not Qualify
Brazil 2013
Total 1/9 3 0 1 2 0 4

Summer Olympics[edit]

Olympics Record
Year Host Round Pos. GP W D L GS GA
1920 Belgium Antwerp Preliminary Round - 1 0 0 1 0 9
1952 Finland Helsinki Preliminary Round - 1 0 0 1 1 2
2004 Greece Athens Round 1 4 3 0 1 2 4 7
Total 3/19 4 5 0 1 4 5 18

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following players were named for the Friendly match against South Korea on 5 March 2014.

Players' records are accurate as of 5 March after the game against South Korea.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Alexandros Tzorvas (1982-08-12) 12 August 1982 (age 31) 16 0 Greece Apollon Smyrni
12 1GK Panagiotis Glykos (1986-06-03) 3 June 1986 (age 27) 1 0 Greece PAOK
2 2DF Giannis Maniatis (1986-10-12) 12 October 1986 (age 27) 28 0 Greece Olympiacos
3 2DF Giorgos Tzavellas (1987-11-26) 26 November 1987 (age 26) 12 0 Greece PAOK
4 2DF Kostas Manolas (1991-06-14) 14 June 1991 (age 22) 6 0 Greece Olympiacos
5 2DF Avraam Papadopoulos (1984-12-03) 3 December 1984 (age 29) 36 0 Greece Olympiacos
11 2DF Loukas Vyntra (1981-02-05) 5 February 1981 (age 33) 47 0 Spain Levante
15 2DF Vasilis Torosidis (1985-06-10) 10 June 1985 (age 28) 64 7 Italy Roma
20 2DF José Holebas (1984-06-27) 27 June 1984 (age 29) 20 1 Greece Olympiacos
6 3MF Alexandros Tziolis (1985-02-13) 13 February 1985 (age 29) 47 1 Turkey Kayserispor
10 3MF Giorgos Karagounis (captain) (1977-03-06) 6 March 1977 (age 37) 132 10 England Fulham
16 3MF Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (1986-12-19) 19 December 1986 (age 27) 16 1 Italy Bologna
18 3MF Andreas Samaris (1989-06-13) 13 June 1989 (age 24) 3 0 Greece Olympiacos
21 3MF Kostas Katsouranis (1979-06-21) 21 June 1979 (age 34) 109 9 Greece PAOK
23 3MF Giannis Fetfatzidis (1990-12-21) 21 December 1990 (age 23) 16 3 Italy Genoa
3MF Panagiotis Kone (1987-07-26) 26 July 1987 (age 26) 14 0 Italy Bologna
7 4FW Giorgos Samaras (1985-02-21) 21 February 1985 (age 29) 71 8 Scotland Celtic
9 4FW Kostas Mitroglou (1988-03-12) 12 March 1988 (age 26) 29 8 England Fulham
14 4FW Dimitris Salpingidis (1981-08-18) 18 August 1981 (age 32) 73 13 Greece PAOK
22 4FW Dimitris Papadopoulos (1981-10-20) 20 October 1981 (age 32) 23 2 Greece Atromitos

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have not been called up for the upcoming matches but have been called up for the team in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Orestis Karnezis (1985-07-11) 11 July 1985 (age 28) 17 0 Spain Granada v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
GK Michalis Sifakis (1984-09-09) 9 September 1984 (age 29) 15 0 Greece Atromitos v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
GK Stefanos Kapino (1994-03-18) 18 March 1994 (age 20) 1 0 Greece Panathinaikos v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos (1988-06-09) 9 June 1988 (age 25) 46 0 Germany Borussia Dortmund v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
DF Dimitris Siovas (1988-09-16) 16 September 1988 (age 25) 8 0 Greece Olympiacos v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
DF Nikos Spyropoulos (1983-10-10) 10 October 1983 (age 30) 35 2 Greece PAOK v.  Austria, 14 August 2013
DF Sokratis Fytanidis (1984-05-25) 25 May 1984 (age 29) 0 0 Greece Atromitos v.  Austria, 14 August 2013
MF Sotiris Ninis (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 24) 31 3 Greece PAOK v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
MF Kostas Fortounis (1992-10-16) 16 October 1992 (age 21) 12 0 Germany Kaiserslautern v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
MF Panagiotis Tachtsidis (1991-02-15) 15 February 1991 (age 23) 4 0 Italy Torino v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
MF Elini Dimoutsos (1988-06-18) 18 June 1988 (age 25) 1 0 Greece Atromitos v.  Austria, 14 August 2013
FW Theofanis Gekas (1980-05-23) 23 May 1980 (age 33) 69 24 Turkey Konyaspor v.  Romania, 19 November 2013
FW Stefanos Athanasiadis (1988-12-24) 24 December 1988 (age 25) 6 0 Greece PAOK v.  Liechtenstein, 15 October 2013

Past squads[edit]

Results and fixtures[edit]

Records and statistics[edit]

Most appearances[edit]

As of 5 March 2014

  Still active players are highlighted