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Croatia - Greece ( Round 2, 1st Leg, 9 Nov. 2017, Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb )


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So Manolas out because FIFA would like to see certain teams go through to the world cup. Fair play my ass. Conspiracy is more like it. 

I'm sick of hearing negativity on this forum of our beloved national team. Seriously what is it that makes people bash our own team. Be positive. Even a Croatian journalist said that how is it that we

Sport-fm and Gazetta both reporting that Sokratis said it is not serious and he will be fine for the matches.

2 hours ago, Argy said:

Hold on here guys. This is where I draw the line. This comparison is unfair. Both Sokratis and Lukaku are world class. Lukaku plays in the Premier league and Champions League constantly up against the best CBs alive. He still scores. You cannot stop a world class striker from scoring 100% of the time. Having top class CBs doesn't mean you cannot get scored on. If that was the case Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Barcelona, Bayern, etc would never allow a goal. But they do, and often vs lesser strikers than Lukaku. A world class striker will get the better of world class defenders from time to time, just as world class defenders will get the better of top class strikers. On top of all that, Sokratis is an elite defender surrounded by not-so-elite players and was dealing with constant pressure by Belgium's attack all game long. What more do you want of him? Unjust and unfounded comparison here. 

So just because Sokratis is world class he is beyond criticism.

We can critisise Samaris and say that we should use others in the Midfield, although despite some people saying we do, we definately do not. But we gotta forget the fact that Sokratis did indeed cost us 3 points in the end.

No. Just No.

We have a decent squad and I agree that Sokratis is a top 10 CB for me alongside Manolas but he has a share in the why our NT didnt take a couple of extra results (unneeded foul vs Bosnia that gave them the 0-1 in Greece, Lukaku goal in Belgium, Lukaku Goal in Greece). We could be talking for a literally first spot here if those goals never happened.

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21 hours ago, tantra129 said:

 

that goal was 100% his fault. go watch the replay. he was drawn out of position for no reason, opened up a lane for the others to take advantage. on top of that .... he had his hands behind his back which is a bad idea for ANY athlete. at the moment he needs to be quick, agile, reactive to get into tje right position, he's dancing hasaposerviko

 

 

we have better options in the middle.

That goal wasn't 100% his fault.

Read my comment again. He was blocking a smart pass that the CBs might miss. Vertonghen up that high and also scoring is literally something that happens once in 100 games? He had other duties from his coach and due to those duties we did not concede from someone else like Mertens, KDB, Carrasco, Hazard. 

I get what you re saying. It does seem that he is letting Vertonghen get the ball but that might be coach instructions. Did you actually expect Vertonghen actually score from there? Get outta here.

 

Also if we have better options. Name them.

I did however say in my original post that no matter who you name. Noone is better. Not praising Samaris but im definately not praising any player who s a literally who and you think he s the real deal. We don't have midfielders as soon as you realise it the more u ll understand that this NT can be a top 20 side in the next 2-3 years if some of the players I named develop correctly, but until then going to the playoffs and barely losing qualification to Croats should be considered an overachievement.

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Performance of NT players (potential squad members) in the season:

Karnezis (Watford) – didnt play at all, always benched

Kapino (Olympiakos) – 5 games in Supa League, on last three occasions didnt play; 1 games in CL, last game vs Barcelona: Proto plays, he is on the bench

Anestis (AEK) – plays regularly but he wont play vs Croatia, he has still no cap

Torosidis (Bologna) – he does not play regularly, last week he was a starter but got injured after 25 minutes and seems to be out (forzaroma.info says recovery time will be 2-3 weeks)

Manolas (Roma) – right now injured, his return expected just before the first playoff game

Papastathopoulos (Dortmund) – was suspended last week, but he always plays if he is available, he is captain of Borussia, our greatest player

K. Papadopoulos (Hamburg) – started as they lost to Bayern (0-1), plays regularly (8 starts in 9 games) but his team is struggling.

Retsos (Leverkusen) – played last week as a right back, at the age of 19 he is a starter for Leverkusen, our only top talent. So far he played 5 games out of six in Bundesliga. These 4 players are almost always on the pitch if they can play and they play for strong teams (all of them centre backs in principle, but Retsos is fielded often as a right back, probably Skibbe will use him as a RB).

Tzavellas (Alanyaspor) – plays for a mid-table Turkish team but he is at least a starter (7 games so far). He didnt play on the last two occasions because of a suspension.

Stafylidis (Augsburg) – unfortunately played only 10 minutes on 1 game, benched four times, now he has muscular problems, is it possible that he too will miss these games? I hope not.

Siovas (Leganes) is in great form and should be in the squad. 6 games, 540 minutes, Leganes conceded only 1 or 2 goals in these games, and they held Atletico Madrid at bay. Unfortunately he was almost always overlooked in this campaign.

Lykogiannis (Sturm Graz) – at least he plays regularly for his team and they are leading in Austrian Bundesliga. Possibly he will be called up, but I dunno whether he will start even if Stafylidis wont be OK (only 1 cap).

Samaris (Benfica) – was suspended until now, played a single game in Portuguese league (90 minutes) and was subbed in in a Champions League game (16 minutes). First Belgian goal was partly his fault, I dont know if he should start now; the main problem is we have some options as DM but none of them is good enough.

Tziolis (Al Feiha) – this weekend: he started on the bench for his Saudi team, and played only six minutes. He missed their previous game; before that, he had been a starter but his team is struggling.

Maniatis (Alanyaspor) – played 8 games out of nine, but he was only a sub in last 2 games (he played 18, then 19 minutes).

I aint too happy with the situation of our DMs: Zeca is OK but who will be his partner? Samaris is suspended (Liga NOS) and benched (Champions League), Tachtsidis is almost never fielded (see below) although he isnt suspended, Tziolis didnt start last week for a sub-par Saudi team and Maniatis seems to be a sub of a very average Turkish team.

Zeca (Koebenhavn) – four games out of six, on Sunday he wasnt in squad vs Aarhus (they won 4-0) and he missed their Europa League game vs Zlin too, because of fatigue. Their coach said before the Zlin game that Zeca seemed to be tired against Odense and thats why he didnt fly to the Czech Republic with the team. Still, Danish media labels him as one of the best players of Copenhagen, and I am pleased to know that he at least wont be tired versus Croatia. (I think he must start.)

Fortounis (Olympiacos) – has a great season, four goals and one assist on five league games. It was slightly surprising he didnt start for them on every occasion, although he was always on the pitch in CL games (so far he has 3 games, 1 assists).

Tachtsidis (Olympiacos) – A very poor season start, he has so far 2 games in Super League (one start, 116 minutes). Didnt play in CL games at all (stayed on the bench vs Juventus and Barcelona). Pathetic. At least Tziolis and Maniatis have some game time, Tachtsidis cant even start for his „top” team.

Kourbelis (Panathinaikos) – he is captain of a mid-table Greek team, he is solid but played only 3 minutes for the NT so far, I dont think he could start.

Mantalos (AEK) – he is their captain, scored several goals, but he is only goody-goody at international level. If he starts (probably he will) he will be used as a winger again but that is quite OK, Fortounis is in better form right now & he is more skilled.

Christodoulopoulos (AEK) – he is on fire nowadays. At international level, he is simply not good enough, he was average even vs Gibraltar! Possibly he will be in the squad but I dont think he will start nor that he should.

Mitroglou (Marseille) – scored on his debut vs Strasbourg in the 88th minute, next time (last week) he was subbed off after 66 minutes. In Europa League he has 1 start and no goals, but thank heaven he seems to be in-form now (scored vs Cyprus and Gibraltar too). If he is in good form he is capable of everything (cf. his three goals vs. Romania or his away goal vs Belgium). We have practically no other striker like him, he must be a starter.

Donis (Stuttgart) – scored 1 goal in 7 games in German Bundesliga, but he has now a minor injury. It would be very important if he could return before the play-offs because he is our only dangerous attacker behind Mitroglou.

Karelis (Genk) – he is healthy again after a year, he played for their second team. There is a weekend before the playoff, possibly he can get some game time (it would be good).

Bakasetas (AEK) – he seems to be a member of the closed club, will probably get a call-up. So far he scored 1 goals in 5 league games and played in Europa League too. He could have some part in the play-off games, he is good at defending, he isnt very much of a threat (after all, Donis has this year only one league goal too). He cant start for AEK (in EL he was subbed in three times and so far he played only 54 minutes)!

Diamantakos (Bochum) – still injured, not much use

Vellios (Nottingham) – provides absolutely nothing and he didnt play a single minute for his Championship team, he was on one occasion on the bench, they had already 11 games

Gianniotas (Real Valladolid) – another international attacker/winger who plays for a second tier team but he is at least some good. Scored 2 goals in 5 games and one goal in the cup, although he was used mainly as a sub (only 1 start in those five games).

The main problem is that several players of the NT didnt play at all, even if they play for mediocre teams. In our potential starting XI, only Manolas (lets hope he will be fit), Papastathopoulos, Kyriakos, Retsos, and possibly Fortounis and Zeca play regularly for a good team, there are four important players – Karnezis, Tachtsidis, Samaris, Stafylidis – who didnt play at all or got only a little time and now we have probably lost Torosidis too. Tzavellas, Maniatis, Tziolis, Mantalos, Lykogiannis are regulars of average and sub-par teams.

It would be a huge feat if we could win the playoff because several members of the squad got off to a shaky season start. Still, I think it is possible. Defensive tactics, team unity, a tactically astute head coach, a couple of class players like Sokratis and Manolas – these factors can contribute to our success.

It will be interesting to see whether Skibbe will use our traditional 4-3-3, the somewhat similar 4-2-3-1 or he will go with four defensive midfielders like versus Belgium.

There are a few players like Koutroubis, Siopis, Androutsos, Manthatis, Bouchalakis etc. who can be called up but neither do I think they will play even if they will get call-ups nor do I they should. If we look at the (potential) squad at large it presents a somewhat sorry picture overall but there are some light spots.

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We all know the strength of Croatia's midfield. Players like Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic are WORLD CLASS. Because of this, i do expect hem to have most of as the ball, most of the time. However, their attackers are not the best, Sokratis and Manolas should be able to keep them under control.

Having fast wingers like Mantalos and Donis? could help us win some counter attacks, as i doubt we will be able to create too much through general play. Mitro will need to find another gear even though the Croats defense is weak. Hopefully Zeca and Tzolis(god help us) or Samaris can break up the play. They would have to sit back 

Our team

                         Karnezis

Retsos - Manolas - Sokratis Papa - Tzavellas

                      Zeca - Samaris

     Donis      -     Fortounis         -       Stalf

                           Mitroglou

If we can play for a 1-1 draw away, I give us a good chance to win at home. 

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SOCCER: Media in Croatia reported on Thursday there will be no away fans in the Croatia vs Greece play-offs for a spot in the World Cup finals, for fear of trouble. The first leg is scheduled for November 9 in Zagreb and the return is on November 12 in Piraeus.
 

 

WHAT???  -So weak

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I miss Samaras at this team.

In my understanding, our chances will increase like crazy if Mitroglou is inspired. He just need one single ball to destroy. And btw, I'm very happy that Croatia is a good team. It's much better for Greece to win over a team with an offensive mentality. If we manage to score a goal in Croatia, I'll have no doubts that we're gonna make it.

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42 minutes ago, La Mendel said:

The question in front of us is as follows (headline): How To Build a Solid Midfield Out of Players Who Are Basically Crap?

I disagree. Samaris, Mantalos and Fortounis are good players. 

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53 minutes ago, tantra129 said:

SOOOOO TRUE   

 

are people so blind to insist on this? 

He has not played. He is out of form. 

How can you ask the impossible of him?

Regardless that he has played pure s%$#! the last 3 years, how can you demand a player to start in a wc barrage that has 1 game at his feet I  6 months ???

 

football iq = zero

Would you think Tachtsidis could take his place, we really do lack midfielders and correct me if im wrong, i dont think there are any up and coming starts in the midfield for greece either. 

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48 minutes ago, tantra129 said:

SOOOOO TRUE   

 

are people so blind to insist on this? 

He has not played. He is out of form. 

How can you ask the impossible of him?

Regardless that he has played pure s%$#! the last 3 years, how can you demand a player to start in a wc barrage that has 1 game at his feet I  6 months ???

 

football iq = zero

Everything you are saying is completely logical and sound. But this is two games do or die for the National team, sometimes logic does not always factor into the result. Samaris might be training hard and be pumped and play his ass off, the smart money is what you say above but, we wont know until the game is done. I am only saying this because 1-I do not follow Samaris or most Greeks abroad to know about their form, and 2-remember in 2004? (dont flame me I know that will never happen again), my point is many players that were called and played were not starters and some I think may not have even been playing regular matches at all either. But the team came together as a team and got the job done. It's fun to read all the different views here, I'm just thinking that in a two leg tie, form and how well a player did this season may be less important than how the unit works together for 180 minutes. Rehagel drove me crazy looking at some of his squad choices and especially leaving out Stoltidi lets say, but the man made a team out of those guys.

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Hopefully Torosidis is ready to go in the first leg. As for Croatias forwards they will find it difficult to find space with Sokratis and Manolas on them. Mandzukic is good but he is no Lukaku. Defensively Croatia are no where near what Greece has to offer. Lovren, Vinda, strinic etc can be exposed, Lovren with Liverpool at Tottenham had a really rough match, he costed his team a goal when Loris through the ball over him and could not recover to get back into position. The key will be not allowing Modric to have time on the ball as he has such great patience and vision. Hopefully we keep them off the board in Zagreb and we hit them for a goal.

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I do agree that the squad has gelled over the last few games, more and more players are coming out and saying how proud they are to be greek and its really heartwarming, but we all know how tough the playoffs are compared to the group. We showed fight against Belgium and stole some points but Croatia is going to be another beast altogether. Zeca will be a defiant starter, the other DM will be either Samaris, Tzolis or Tachtsidis. 

Tzolis played decent against Gibraltar and Cyprus, but they are both mediocre teams. I wouldnt be too opposed to starting him given the other two havent shown much promise. 

Also, Toro will be a big loss for the first leg, hopefully he will be back for the Athens leg. 

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1 minute ago, Ellada2004 said:

Hopefully Torosidis is ready to go in the first leg. As for Croatias forwards they will find it difficult to find space with Sokratis and Manolas on them. Mandzukic is good but he is no Lukaku. Defensively Croatia are no where near what Greece has to offer. Lovren, Vinda, strinic etc can be exposed, Lovren with Liverpool at Tottenham had a really rough match, he costed his team a goal when Loris through the ball over him and could not recover to get back into position. The key will be not allowing Modric to have time on the ball as he has such great patience and vision. Hopefully we keep them off the board in Zagreb and we hit them for a goal.

Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic all do provide attacking threat as well. We all know that Mandzukic isnt the best striker and our two CB's will have them under control. The two Dms will have to act as that 2nd line to stop the secondary attack of Rakitic and Modric. We will need to play carefully 

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4 hours ago, MelbourneGreek said:

SOCCER: Media in Croatia reported on Thursday there will be no away fans in the Croatia vs Greece play-offs for a spot in the World Cup finals, for fear of trouble. The first leg is scheduled for November 9 in Zagreb and the return is on November 12 in Piraeus.
 

 

WHAT???  -So weak

Because their fans are animals.  Big generalization slandering an entire people I know ... but hey it is what it is.  We can only sumrise that their FA is concerned there could be trouble that could cause them to lose points.  It's logical of them to play it safe.

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14 hours ago, Rockafeller Skank said:

So just because Sokratis is world class he is beyond criticism.

We can critisise Samaris and say that we should use others in the Midfield, although despite some people saying we do, we definately do not. But we gotta forget the fact that Sokratis did indeed cost us 3 points in the end.

No. Just No.

We have a decent squad and I agree that Sokratis is a top 10 CB for me alongside Manolas but he has a share in the why our NT didnt take a couple of extra results (unneeded foul vs Bosnia that gave them the 0-1 in Greece, Lukaku goal in Belgium, Lukaku Goal in Greece). We could be talking for a literally first spot here if those goals never happened.

That's not what I am saying, perhaps I wasn't clear. I thought what was said is if Sokratis is really world class then why did he get beat by Lukaku twice, etc. 

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5 hours ago, Chris Tsamados said:

I'm thinking we might draft in Maniatis at RB if Torosidis is injured. 

 

Not sure how Samaras is doing these days but if he is even half the player he used to be he's surely worth a shot (even as a substitute) in seemingly decimated midfield. 

no because it will be a suicide. retsos or lykogiannis any day. maniatis, tzavellas and tziolis are done after this campaign, hopefully vellios and diamantakos too. that's the good thing if we don't beat croatia. 

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