Greece (and Ranieri) needs a win to stay alive
Before the match against Romania (0-1 behind closed doors) everyone thought Greece would have no problem for a top two placement at Group F. The draw in the next match against Finland (1-1 away) was not what we needed but the important thing is we are still alive, as long as we get the win tonight against the leaders of Group F, Northern Ireland. The preview and betting pick:
ANALYSIS GROUP F: GREECE – NORTHERN IRELAND
*Venue: Georgios Karaiskakis, Piraeus
Teams 1 and 2 from each group advance to the final stage of Euro 2016 along with the best third placed team from all groups.
*The referee, Stéphane Lannoy (FRA), was present in two defeats of Greece. The first one was from Czech Republic (1-2 on 12/06/12, Euro 2012). The second was back on 2007, in the friendly match against Spain at Toumba, Thessaloniki (2-3).
I did not publish a preview last Friday when Greece faced Finland (1-1 away) and the reason was simple. I was confused after the poor performance of the team in the home defeat from Romania (0-1, behind closed doors). I just did not expect them to be so weak. After watching their second match I must say I was surprised to watch Claudio Ranieri making so many changes in the starting lineup but I must admit he was proven right. He knew Mavrias, Athanassiadis and Karelis were in better form and he took his risk by leaving experienced players like Samaras, Mitroglou and Salpiggidis out. Finland was not as strong as I thought and the goal by Karelis (24’) gave Greece the lead. The decision of our players to wait on their opponents hoping to finish the match with a second goal did not work. Hurme scored the equalizer at 55’ and my overall impression in the remaining time was that Greece was more dangerous but the draw was a fair result. The next match is now a must win situation for Greece. Claudio Ranieri stated yesterday a new negative result will be a disaster for him and the players and he is right. The experienced coach is expected to make a couple more changes in the starting lineup.
Absences: The same roster is available. There are not any new problems reported.
Northern Ireland got a professional win in the home match against Faroe Islands (2-0) and they currently hold the first place of the group. McAuley and Lafferty gave a quick lead to their team (6’, 20’) and the truth is N. Ireland could have scored more goals against a very weak opponent. Faroe Islands came close to get back in the match at 37’ but the penalty kick of Benjaminsen was stopped by Carol. The stats (attempts 26-3) show Faroe Islands did not stand a chance for a positive result anyway. Coach O’Neill stated Greece is a favorite for a win tonight because of their experience in important competitions. There have been no changes in the roster of the last match.
Doubtful: McAuley (DEF)
Betting Pick: The win of Greece @ 1.60
Greece has a bad habit of making everything difficult and they did it again. This match has turned into a final for us and, hopefully, with the help of the supporters at Georgios Karaiskakis, we will get what we need. The odds on our win are low but like Mr. Ranieri said, we only need one goal and keep a clean sheet. You should also keep the following stats in mind:
-The defeat from Romania ended an the undefeated home streak of Greece (14W-4D-0L) that was holding from 2007.
-The away win of Northern Ireland against Hungary ended a no winning streak of 11 matches (0W-3D-8L) since 2010.