July 04, 2004

Πιστεύετε στα θαύματα? Ναϊ!: Like the USA at Lake Placid, Greece pulls off the most improbable run at Euro2004.

posted by grum@work to soccer at 03:52 PM - 25 comments

The translation of that link doesn't quite work in reverse, but it's the best I could do with Babelfish.

posted by grum@work at 03:53 PM on July 04, 2004

Not a great game, but a great story. I don't know if this is as improbable as the Miracle on Ice - what do some of our Footy experts think?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:03 PM on July 04, 2004

A damn sight more improbable, I'd have thought. Well done Greece! Their defence was absolutely unbelieveable.

posted by salmacis at 04:35 PM on July 04, 2004

What was improbable about it? Surely now that Greece are European champions, thanks to their own consistent, understated but highly efficient football, it's time to end the patronizing. They fully deserved every one of their triumphs and we Portuguese played as well as we could. They were better. I also think this "defense/attack" dichotomy is reductive and passť: Greece have a great overall system and, when one looks at their game dispassionately, they aren't overly defensive at all. What they are is destructive and "antidotal", neutralizing and restrictive - which all good teams should be. They took teamwork to new levels and their lesson will be learnt by the so-called "better" teams. Massive congratulations are in order! (Outside my window Greeks and Portuguese are partying as if both had won!)

posted by Miguel Cardoso at 04:58 PM on July 04, 2004

I just wish I'd had a tenner on them from the start. Well done Greece.

posted by squealy at 05:14 PM on July 04, 2004

I did ask whether Greece would suprise everyone! Too bad I didn't put a fiver on them at 66-1.

posted by BigCalm at 05:48 PM on July 04, 2004

That headline was all Greek to me.

posted by worldcup2002 at 08:23 PM on July 04, 2004

So, who here thinks Greece qualify for WC06?

posted by billsaysthis at 09:01 PM on July 04, 2004

Not Miracle on Ice, but congrats to the Greeks. I am relating better with Portuguese being a Flames fan. Though I kind of wish we had lost to the Greece instead of Tampa Bay.

posted by kremb at 11:02 PM on July 04, 2004

The Greeks did nothing but kick the ball away...absolutely no skill. It was NOT entertaining in any way. Portugal came to play soccer, Greece came to play "kick the ball away from our goal" and the whole match sucked because of it. Considering how the Greeks had been playing up to this point, i almost didn't PPV it...but i thought since its a final, maybe it will be interesting. I was really wrong. I should have saved my 25 bucks.

posted by StarFucker at 12:04 AM on July 05, 2004

I didn't think the match was that bad. For a 1-0 match there was a decent flow but it didn't seem like Portugal managed a chance in the last 10 minutes despite the Greeks employing a Sven Goran Erickson style defence after taking the leads.

posted by gspm at 01:15 AM on July 05, 2004

What was improbable was that a team that rarely qualifies for major tournaments, had never before won a single game in a major tournament and had lost the first two games of its qualifying tournament managed to win the whole thing. The Greek F.A, who had booked into their hotel for one week only, also deemed it an improbable victory, presumably, unless some dastardly psychology was at work. For once I am with starfucker, if what Greece has produced is football, you can stick it. I don't think too many dispassionate observers would wish to see their teams, or any teams, adopt such a style. In a sense, to praise Greece for such a boring, negative anti football style is extremely patronising. Poor little Greece came and gave the big boys a bloody nose by adopting the catenaccio, whereas if any other team had played that way they would have been roundly condemned. Mind you, the face of the Greek prime minister was an absolute picture. It will be interesting to see if Greece qualify for the world cup from a group containing Turkey and Denmark. Unlikely, I would suggest, particularly if Rehhegel buggers off.

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:49 AM on July 05, 2004

Sven should get a video of that game and make Sol and John Terry watch it for the rest of their lives until they understand the difference between defending deep and defending well.

posted by JJ at 02:59 AM on July 05, 2004

I bet that most of us waking up in England, Italy, Spain, France or Holland would quite happly swap places with Greece this morning.... As for Star's criticisms, they beat Portugal in the opener, knocked Spain out of the group, beat the defending champions France, then everyone's dark horse favorites the Czechs going on to beat the home team and overwhelming favorites in the final.. You don't do that by doing nothing but kick the ball away...absolutely no skill. I agree with Miguel, it's time to give them some credit for doing what none of the big teams managed to do, with (on paper) a tenth of the resources.

posted by Brettski at 03:39 AM on July 05, 2004

If England were to win a tournament playing with that style I would despair.

posted by Fat Buddha at 03:44 AM on July 05, 2004

I fail to see what's wrong with playing to your strengths. No maybe they weren't the best team technically and didn't have the star names. What they did have was discipline, organisation, fitness and a system tailored to their abilities. All credit to them. On preview I'd say they played the game England tried to play every time we took a lead, but they did it properly. If England won playing like the Greeks I'd be a happy man. I'd just like England to win something in my lifetime.

posted by squealy at 03:48 AM on July 05, 2004

If the Greeks want to win playing like that fine, good for them. I am happy for them, I have spent God knows how many happy fortnights in various parts of Greece and I like the Greek people; it must be amazing to be Greek today as they will not have expected this and I am sure they are enjoying it with a greater sense of joir de vivre than the English would. It is self evident that having won the requisite number of games they deserved to win the thing, they did twice what England failed to do once for one thing. The fact remains that I would not want to see any team that I support play that way. It is miserable. It is nasty. If every team now adopts that style and plays every game and every tournament that way, rather than it being a one off aberration, the world will squeal like a stuck pig.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:02 AM on July 05, 2004

They won't though will they? It's hardly as if defending from the front and hitting on the break is some kind of new wonder tactic.

posted by squealy at 05:15 AM on July 05, 2004

No they won't, thank the good lord above us.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:27 AM on July 05, 2004

Its not just Greece who have been negative this tournament - practically every team has, except for the Czech Republic and Portugal. Its a shame, because at Euro 2000, almost all the teams that did well we're very attacking, and played great football. But then, I think Euro 200 was an anomaly - usually most teams are pretty conservative at the major tournaments. too much fear, I suppose.

posted by dng at 06:40 AM on July 05, 2004

There's a difference between playing a solid defensive game and trying not to lose. Greece played solid football based on a well-organised, disciplined and very talented back four. England tried not to lose by letting Campbell stand there and hoof it back to the opposition for an hour in each game. It comes back to the thing that annoys me about the England team more than any other - they have some very talented players, but very few who will back themselves. And FB - don't talk piss - if England developed some new tactic that involved tunneling under the pitch for ninety minutes to ensure victory in a major championship, you'd be as delighted as the rest of their fans. Besides - Greece weren't THAT negative - it's not like they were Northern Ireland circa 1982. The theme of the whole tournament (for me anyway) was the number of times teams got punished for negative play - England lost to France in very cruel circumstances, but they let them come at them for an hour, so the result was deserved - they did the same against Portugal. Denmark were negative and were found out - Italy didn't play like it mattered until they were already halfway to the airport. The best team won. They deserved it. They played to their strengths and they avoided exposing their weaknesses - the "big name teams" in Europe could do with taking a leaf from their book instead of permanently trying to recreate some idealised version of their national squad (Holland in particular) that is derived from little more than dodgy memories of how things used to be in the "good old days". [/rant]

posted by JJ at 07:18 AM on July 05, 2004

good points JJ - the thing that struck me about Greece over England was precisly that the way Greece defended was to move the ball out of defennce and make the opposition get it back. England's was to Kick it as far up field and let them come back at you straight away. Given that, it would make more sense to me (and I never thought I'd say this) for Rooney to have been replaced by Heskey rather than Vassel - at this level you can't keep losing the ball everytime you soak up an attack - not all night - hence France got two late goals and Portugal got one as England tried to hold on. I for one wish we'd been able to defend our leads as a team like the Greeks did. I'd prefer we tried to defend by attacking, as we were forced to against Croatia, but that's not what we tried to do against France or Portugal. Once we took the lead we tried to play the same game as the Greeks, and failed....

posted by Brettski at 09:23 AM on July 05, 2004

A shit final... I can't believe the worst game of the tournament was saved for the final... If this is the future of football...i weep.

posted by StarFucker at 03:43 PM on July 05, 2004

I can't believe the worst game of the tournament was saved for the final... Thats usually the way with football, unfortunately.

posted by dng at 04:19 PM on July 05, 2004

Look at last year's CL final between the two Milan sides, 0-0 and decided on penalties, then tell me that Greece-Portugal was worse!

posted by billsaysthis at 05:59 PM on July 05, 2004

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