Since Euro 2004, I have never placed a bet on the win of the Greek National Team. In fact I only placed a bet in our win against Russia back then (we lost that match). Ever since, I never bet on the final result of the National Team for good luck. You may laugh at me but that is the way it is. Things have become more complicated for me now that I write previews for Soccer Analysis. Beside my thoughts on the match, I also have to pick something to bet on. That is why I chose the draw at halftime in this match. All the information I had gathered showed me that there were good chances for the team to perform better this time so I followed the usual tactic. Solid defense, draw at halftime and hope to score on a counter attack when we‘d find a chance.
Only minutes before the match, during a conversation with a good friend, I was accusing Karagounis for being too old to be in the starting line-up. In fact I said, “Ok, he is passionate in his game but he should only be used in the last ten minutes to hold the ball when the result is convenient for us”.
Matches like the one we saw tonight are the reason so many people love soccer. It is the only sport that anything can happen. I spent a lot of time reading the previews of journalists and tipsters and they all had one thing in common. They had focused on the goal difference of a win for Russia that was taken for granted. However, the Greek players proved again that in soccer (and consequently in betting) there is never a sure win.
The Greek players were never known for their scoring abilities or their technical skills. They are known for being a team that first ensures the defense and then, by using counter attacks, will try to score. It is almost impossible to see this team humiliating a weaker opponent with a score like 8-0; it is even harder to see someone of this team scoring a hat-trick. At the same time they can do other amazing things like winning a Euro Competition or qualifying to a next round when everyone thinks that they will not. It is no secret that it is the result of teamwork and team spirit.
Even in the two first appearances these characteristics were there. The players lost their concentration in the beginning of the match against Poland, they had to face a hostile referee but still, they managed to score with a man down and they lost the win after Karagounis missed that penalty kick. The same story happened against the Czechs; a very weak start and 2 goals under only by the sixth minute. They got back in the match with an own goal by Czech that was a result of an overall pressure of the team to score. The only thing that practically saved the Czechs was that the Greek Team was two goals under and, as I mentioned earlier, they are not known for our scoring abilities.
The team finally made it to the round of 8 and made us proud in troubled times for the Greeks. Sunday is Election Day here; things still not look good no matter who will be the new Prime Minister. We are not expecting any good days or joys soon, so this win was the best thing that we had recently, and even if it will not be followed by a new one in this competition, I have two things to say:
- Thanks to everyone who is involved in this team for the joy they gave to us, especially in these strange times.
- An apology to our captain, George Karagounis for the things I said. If our politicians had the respect and love he has for this country, we would not be in this situation now.