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Come on Greece, The thread of the surprise team of the EC 2004


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Yartsev calls on defensive cover

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by By Pavle Gognidze

Two young defenders have made a surprise appearance in Russia's preliminary squad for UEFA EURO 2004â„¢.

Defensive duo

Georgi Yartsev has named FC Krylya Sovetov Samara's Alexander Anyukov and FC Torpedo Moskva's Alexei Bugayev, both of whom made their debuts in this week's goalless friendly draw with Austria, in his 27-man preliminary squad for the finals as he seeks to find cover for a severely stretched back four.

'Good impression'

"They both made a good impression on me," said the coach. "I would single out Bugayev, who did not lose out in the air to the tall Austrian strikers. I think he has a good chance in the national team. As for Anyukov, he was a bit nervous in the match, and he did not support the attacks as he does for his club."

Defenders injured

The duo may not travel to Portugal if key defenders Viktor Onopko, Sergei Ignashevitch and Dmitri Sennikov all manage to recover from their respective injuries. All have been included in Yartsev's squad, subject to a thorough medical examination at the national team camp in Bor on Monday.

Semshov named

FC Zenit St. Petersburg midfield player Andrei Arshavin is a notable absentee from the squad but Torpedo's Igor Semshov, who did not play in the game in Graz has been named in the squad along with FC Porto's UEFA Champions League final goalscorer Dmitri Alenichev.

Forward line

Five forwards will train at the camp in Bor until Yartsev names his final squad on 2 June. Alexander Panov or Dmitri Kirichenko look the most likely candidates to be left at home while Alexander Kerzhakov, Dmitri Sytchev and Dmitri Bulykin can be sure of their places.

'Final decision'

"I will not name a final squad for now," said Yartsev. "I need to look at the condition of the players and then make a final decision. I am hoping that all those nursing minor injuries will be back in training as soon as possible."

Russia squad

Ovchinnikov, Malafeev, Akinfeev, Onopko, Ignashevitch, Sharonov, Anyukov, Bugayev, Sennikov, Evseev, Smertin, Mostovoi, Alenichev, Gusev, Aldonin, Izmailov, Loskov, Radimov, Bystrov, Semshov, Karyaka, Boyarintsev, Kerzhakov, Sychev, Bulykin, Kirichenko, Panov.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Today Greece will be facing Poland at the POGON stadium in Szczecin (19:00 GMT).

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jimka:

Tomorrow(29/05/04) Greece will be facing Poland at the POGON stadium in Szczecin (19:00 GMT).

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Tsiartas: "We want to make Greeks proud"

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"We will be taking part in a big competition and it's the most important journey we'll have to make. We are looking to make Greeks proud and prove that we deservedly made it to the finals. We topped the table in the qualifying phase and now we'll have to prove that it wasn't a fluke", said Vasilis Tsiartas just before the national team's departure for Poland.

The international midfielder added: "We won't be going just to make a good appearence but to win and qualify. Our team has potential and we'll prove it. If we believe that we can achieve something important and our reaction is positive, then we could surprise everyone in a a positive way. We need to be very well prepared mentally and our concentration will play an important role."

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Nikopolidis: "Three ways to success

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While the national team was departing for Poland, Antonis Nikopolidis talked about the key-elements of the national team and answered whether there is anxiety among the team-members:

"There is no anxiety. The big hour for us will be when we play Portugal in the opening game. Practice, concentration and composedness are the elements that must exist within the team. We are facing a challenge and we want to succeed both for the sake of our country and for ourselves." With regard to his match fitness, Nikopolidis commented: I have been out of form and it may get at me a bit. I have been doing everything needed all this time and i will keep on doing it in order to be affected as little as possible. I hope that i'll be fit in time so that i can give the best of me."

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Miechel: «Rehhagel has given Greece a boost and a vision»

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Not such a shiny presence over the last two years, but still a team to be reckoned with, the National Team of Poland are going to face Greece in a friendly match to be played on May 29.

Iraklis΄ forward, Marcin Miechel, has played with the National Team of Poland and he spoke to epo.gr about the potential of his country΄s team, whilst, he set out his views on the Greek team too. In detail:

Q. What are the Greek team going to come up against in Poland?

«A hospitable atmosphere and a remarkable team. I believe that this friendly was necessary to Greece, who are preparing for EURO 2004 finals. It΄s an away match and the resistance they will have to face will give Mr. Rehhagel the opportunity to come to useful conclusions. It΄s like a final rehearsal before the top football meeting».

Q. What are the main characteristics to define the identity of your country΄s national team?

«It is a restructuring phase for Poland right now, but that doesn΄t mean that they are of no account. Some people think that they are somehow worn out, but that is not the case. They are a quick and spirited team, with very efficient forwards. The Greek defense will «feel» them intensely during the match».

Q. Have you formed a full idea of Greece΄s potential?

«I have formed a very good opinion on your country΄s national team during my stay here. It is obvious through their last results, whilst, their qualifying with flying colours for the finals in Portugal revealed their potential»

Q. What is your opinion of the Greek National Team?

«The players put on a team effort and are very skilful. They have adjusted their play to modern football. I believe that in Otto Rehhagel the Greek team has found the man to give them a boost and a vision».

Q. Do you think that this team can shine in Portugal?

«Greece΄s group is a very difficult one. Any predictions might prove to be far out. Portugal are the favourite and Spain, theoretically, are the next likely to prevail. Greece are in a position to beat Spain, but they would have to avoid making the same mistakes they made in the friendly against Holland».

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Nikolaidis has been ruled out of today's match due to injury problems while Charisteas and Vryzas will also be missed as they have been given permission to stay at their clubs for a few more days. This leaves as with just one striker available.

Probable lineup

Nikopolidis

Seitaridis

Fyssas

Dellas

Kapsis

Dabizas

Zagorakis

Basinas

Tsiartas

Giannakopoulos

Papadopoulos

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Poland - Greece

Finalized Starting Eleven

5-4-1

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GK. Nikopolidis (PAO)

DR. Seitaridis (PAO)

DL. Fyssas (PAO)

DC. Dellas (Roma)

DC. Kapsis (AEK)

SW / DMC. Katsouranis (AEK)

DMC Zagorakis (AEK)

MC. Karagounis (Inter)

FL. Giannakopoulos (Bolton)

FR. Lakis (AEK)

SC. Papadopoulos (PAO)

BENCH

Katergiannakis

Chalkias

Goumas

Dabizas

Venetidis

Basinas

Kafes

Georgiadis

Tsiartas

</pre>

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Poland - Greece 1 - 0

warm-up friendly game

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Own goal undoes Greece

Poland 1-0 Greece

Greece fell to defeat in Szczecin in their penultimate UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ friendly as they struggled just two weeks before playing in the opening game against Portugal.

Trio out

Without injured striker Demis Nikolaidis - who is set to retire after the summer tournament after taking over former club AEK Athens FC - and fellow forwards Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas due to club commitments, Greece were shorn of much of their usual bite up front.

Own goal

Mihalis Kapsis put through his own goal on 16 minutes after a mix-up with goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis under pressure from a long-range Jacek Krzynowek free-kick. Greece came close three minutes later but Vassilis Lakis found his shot blocked.

Boruc impresses

Poland dominated for the rest of the first half, but could not extend their lead. After the break Greece improved, but Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc - a replacement for Jerzy Dudek - kept them out.

Vaduz visit

Otto Rehhagel's side visit Liechtenstein for their final warm-up on 3 June before meeting Portugal in the showpiece game in Porto nine days later.

©Reuters 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Portugal - Luxembourg 3 - 0

warm-up friendly game

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First-half goals please Portugal

Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg

Portugal returned to winning ways in Ãgueda tonight with a comfortable victory against Luxembourg.

First-half goals

Playing the first half without six FC Porto players following their UEFA Champions League heroics on Wednesday, Portugal still managed three goals before the break scored by Luís Figo, Nuno Gomes and Rui Costa. The Porto men arrived after the interval, but victory was already sealed, Portugal's first against European opposition since beating Albania 5-3 in Lisbon last October.

Figo free-kick

Figo opened the scoring in the 14th minute, sending in a sweet free-kick. Nuno Gomes struck 14 minutes later, shooting in after being set up by Rui Costa - who turned scorer with a long-range effort eight minutes before the break.

Nerves settled

Deco, so influential for Porto on Wednesday, went close twice after the break, but the win will settle Portugal's nerves ahead of their UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ opener in a fortnight's time, not least because their 12 June opponents Greece lost today 1-0 in Poland.

Risk taking

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose team face Lithuania next Saturday in Setúbal, said: "I want my team to be able to take the risk of shooting on goal and today was a perfect occasion for them to do it."

Simonsen happy

Luxembourg coach Alan Simonsen said: "I think we had a great second half, with three or four good chances. We tried to play good football and I think we were successful. "

©Reuters 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Sáez stays at Spanish helm

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By Andy Hall

Spain coach Iñaki Sáez has renewed his contract for an extra two seasons, taking him up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Successful predigree

Sáez, 61, took over the post from José Antonio Camacho following the 2002 World Cup after stepping up from a successful six-year spell as Spain’s youth coach. In that time he had led Spain to several titles, including the 1998 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Portugal place

His first game in charge a 1-1 draw with Hungary in Budapest in August of that year, and the former Athletic Club Bilbao, UD Las Palmas and Albacete Balopmié coach led his side to UEFA EURO 2004™ via the play-offs. His side begin their campaign in Portugal against Group A rivals Russia on 12 June.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Fyssas will piss all over Figo icon_mad.gificon_wink.gif

Rehaggel: I remain confident

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"We had some problems in our attacking line, since three of our four strikers were missing. We conceded an own goal and this affected our performance. We did try to react and create some chances and i was happy with our mentality. It was a tough friendly game and i made a lot of changes in order to find out the condition of my players. I remain confident, but we'll have to adjust some things in the midfield to improve our ball distribution, to create more chances and to prevent the opponents from cashing in on our turnovers."

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Meanwhile, Nikolaidis is suffering from an injury problem and there have been rumors that Rehaggel might be replacing him with another striker if tests show that he won't be able to get over it on time!

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Sáez thinking positively

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Spain have started their final pre-UEFA EURO 2004™ preparations, with coach Iñaki Sáez insisting that they are not even contemplating disappointment in Portugal.

Morale boost

The squad arrived in Las Rozas, Madrid, on Friday, and morale has been raised by the announcement at the weekend that Sáez's contract has been renewed for a further two years. The 61-year-old revealed that he had been chewing over the extension offer since Spain defeated Norway in November's play-offs.

Sáez 'committed'

"I decided to renew now to bring a feeling of confidence to the squad," he said. "Soon we will be entering a major competition and I felt it was better for everyone to know where we stand beforehand, to let people know that I am committed to the job.

'Great atmosphere'

"There has been a great atmosphere in the camp over the past few days," Sáez added. "The players are excited and morale is high. The idea of losing has not even entered my head - once you start thinking about losing, you have already lost."

Goalkeeping speculation

There is currently much speculation concerning who will be Sáez's first-choice goalkeeper in Portugal. Valencia CF's Santiago Cañizares was forced out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup by a freak accident involving a dropped bottle of aftershave, but now he is staking his claim to supplant Real Madrid CF's Iker Casillas.

'At the team's service'

Having been allotted the No1 jersey for the tournament, Cañizares might even have the inside track on his rival, but he is taking nothing for granted. "As always, the decision lies with the coach and no one else," he said. "All the talk is just opinions that do not mean anything. The important thing is to be fit and well and at the team's service."

Togetherness the key

Cañizares believes this spirit of togtherness could be the key to success. "There are several teams that may be better than Spain but beating them is just a question of sheer hard work," he said. "Perhaps neither [FC] Porto or Valencia are considered the top teams in Europe but both have won their league and done well in Europe simply because they have grafted and done a good job. We have to do the same at the EURO."

Last friendly

Spain have just one more pre-tournament friendly, against Andorra in Getafe on 5 June, and open their EURO 2004â„¢ campaign on 12 June against Russia.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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I have to say i'm rather troubled with our performace in the matches agaisnt Holland and Poland. We lacked freshness and creativity and most of the players seem to be exhausted. I just hope Rehaggel knows what to do to confront this matter or we could be repeating the 4-4-2 tactic we utilized in the 1994 world cup.

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Selection dilemma for Rehhagel

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Greece coach Otto Rehhagel faces a selection dilemma surrounding influential striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis just one day before the final deadline for submitting his squad for UEFA EURO 2004â„¢.

'Complicated case'

"We will have to decide by tomorrow afternoon before we declare the 23-man party to UEFA," Rehhagel said at Greece's training camp in Switzerland. "Nikolaidis' case is complicated. We decided to take to Portugal all the players involved with the effort we began [in qualifying] and we want to be able to take them with us."

Calf injury

The 31-year-old Club Atlético de Madrid forward picked up a calf injury in training last week and doctors believe he could miss Greece's first two matches in Group A against Portugal on 12 June and Spain four days later.

Possible replacements

Nikolaidis did not play in the 1-0 defeat by Poland on Saturday, and 1. FC Kaiserslautern forward Yiannis Amanatidis or FC PAOK striker Dimitrios Salpingidis are being tipped as likely replacements if he fails to recover in time.

Minor injuries

Rehhagel has other worries, with Panathinaikos FC defender Giorgos Seitaridis, Leicester City FC's Nikos Dabizas and FC Internazionale midfield player Giorgos Karagounis, who has a swollen ankle, all nursing minor injuries.

'Part of the game'

"I must admit, I didn't expect so many injuries," said the German coach, who has led Greece to the UEFA European Championship finals for the first time in 24 years. "But we must not forget that injuries are a part of football and we can't avoid them."

Positive environment

Greece play their final warm-up on Thursday against Liechtenstein before departing for Portugal on Sunday. Although Rehhagel conceded the injuries have had an unsettling effect on the Greek camp, he insisted his men are fully focussed, saying: "Generally the climate in the team is very good and there is a lot of enthusiasm and a desire to our job well."

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Russia suffer double setback

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Russian pair Sergei Ignashevitch and striker Aleksandr Panov have been ruled out of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ due to injury.

Medical examinations

The news broke today after an extensive medical examination of all the national team players took place yesterday at the Russian training camp in Bor near Moscow. Team manager Aleksandr Chernov announced that PFC CSKA Moskva defender Ignashevitch and FC Torpedo Moskva striker Panov will not travel to Portugal based on the results of the fitness tests.

Onopko doubt

He did not, however, elaborate on what kind of injuries the pair have sustained. It has also been reported that Russian captain Viktor Onopko is likely to miss the tournament with a knee injury.

Key defender

While Panov is on the fringes of Georgi Yartsev's side, Ignashevitch is a key centre-back for Russia. Roman Sharonov of FC Rubin Kazan or Aleksei Bugayev of FC Torpedo Moskva, who both won their first international caps recently, could take his place in the 23-man party.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Salgado faces nervous wait

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Spain right-back Míchel Salgado may miss at least part of UEFA EURO 2004™ after picking up a leg injury during training this evening.

Muscle tear

The Real Madrid CF defender was forced out of Tuesday's mini-match in Las Rozas complaining of pains to his left hamstring. On inspection, medical staff detected a tear to muscle fibres in Salgado's left leg.

Wednesday examination

Doctors will know more information on Wednesday when the player will undergo a magnetic scan at the Madrid's Ruber clinic. Whatever the outcome, Salgado is set to be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks and will miss Saturday's friendly against Andorra - with Spain beginning their campaign seven days later against Russia.

'Not certain'

Team doctor Genaro Borras said: "Everything points to quite a big muscle tear in his left leg. But it still is not certain. We will have to look at him tomorrow and decide what to do, although I think that it should not be the sort of injury that will rule the lad out of a big tournament like this."

©uefacom 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Russia select party for Portugal

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Having seen a preliminary 27-man squad reduced by injury, Russia coach Georgi Yartsev today cut FC Rubin Kazan midfield player Denis Boyarintsev from the fold to leave him with a 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2004â„¢.

Defensive cover

Yartsev ran the final eye over his squad this evening during a friendly fixture against a team of foreign talent based in Russia, the national team winning 3-1. Boyarintsev was always likely to be cut, though, with the coach short on defensive cover following the withdrawal of captain Viktor Onopko and Sergei Ignashevitch - his first-choice partnership in the heart of the defence.

Declared unfit

Onopko pulled out today having failed to shake off a knee injury sustained on duty with FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast, while Ignashevitch was declared unfit yesterday along with striker Aleksandr Panov. Boyarintsev will also miss out on Portugal, with Yartsev overlooking the winger in favour of FC Torpedo Moskva's Igor Semshov and Vladimir Bystrov of FC Zenit St. Peterburg.

Captain Smertin

There are eleven midfield players in the squad and just five defenders. Three of those - recent debutants Aleksandr Anyukov and Aleksei Bugayev, and Roman Sharonov - have just four caps between them, meaning the experienced Portsmouth FC schemer Aleksei Smertin is likely to drop back into defence. The 29-year-old will also captain the side in Onopko's absence.

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Russia squad

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Goalkeepers

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Viacheslav Malafeev (FC Zenit St. Peterburg)

Sergei Ovchinnikov (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Igor Akinfeev (PFC CSKA Moskva)

Defenders

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Vadim Evseev (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Dmitri Sennikov (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Aleksei Bugayev (FC Torpedo Moskva)

Roman Sharonov (FC Rubin Kazan)

Aleksandr Anyukov (FC Krylya Sovetov Samara)

Midfielders

------------------------------------------------

Aleksei Smertin (Portsmouth FC)

Vladislav Radimov (FC Zenit St. Peterburg)

Marat Izmailov (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Andrei Kariaka (FC Krylya Sovetov Samara)

Rolan Gusev (PFC CSKA Moskva)

Vladimir Bystrov (FC Zenit St. Peterburg)

Evgeni Aldonin (PFC CSKA Moskva)

Aleksandr Mostovoi (RC Celta de Vigo)

Dmitri Alenichev (FC Porto)

Dmitri Loskov (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Igor Semshov (FC Torpedo Moskva)

Forwards

------------------------------------------------

Dmitri Bulykin (FC Dinamo Moskva)

Dmitri Sychev (FC Lokomotiv Moskva)

Aleksandr Kerzhakov (FC Zenit St. Peterburg)

Dmitri Kirichenko (PFC CSKA Moskva)

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Greek duo retain their places

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Forward Themistoklis Nikolaidis and midfield player Giorgos Karagounis have kept their places in coach Otto Rehhagel's final squad for UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ despite injury concerns.

Final selection

Rehhagel submitted his final selection today and made no changes to the squad he initially announced last month. Club Atletico de Madrid's Nikolaidis picked up a calf injury during a training session last week and doctors fear he might miss Greece's first two matches in Group A against Portugal and Spain. Meanwhile, FC Internazionale midfielder Giorgos Karagounis has been undergoing treatment for a swollen ankle.

Final warm-up

Greece play Liechtenstein tomorrow in their final warm-up before flying to Portugal on Sunday where they will face the host nation in the opening game of the tournament on 12 June.

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Spain count on Capdevila

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Joan Capdevila has been called in to replace the injured Míchel Salgado in the final 23-man Spain squad for UEFA EURO 2004™.

Hamstring tear

Spain coach Iñaki Sáez has enlisted the RC Deportivo La Coruña defender after Salgado suffered a tear to his left hamstring during a training match at the squad's training camp in Las Rozas on Tuesday evening. Salgado may have been fit again after ten or 15 days but Sáez has decided not to take the risk and called on Capdevila instead.

Three caps

The 26-year-old Capdevila usually plays as a left-back for his club, and has been capped just three times for Spain so far. The first of those caps came in a goalless draw against Paraguay in a friendly on 16 October 2002, while his most recent appearance was in the 31 March 2004 friendly against Denmark which Spain won 2-0.

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Russia captain ruled out

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Russia captain Viktor Onopko has been ruled out of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ with a knee injury.

'Onopko is out'

"Onopko is out, he has already left the squad and has gone home," Russia's general manager Aleksandr Chernov said. The 34-year-old central defender suffered the injury playing for his club FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast in last month's Russian Premier-Liga match against FC Rubin Kazan.

'We tried everything'

"We tried everything possible to help Onopko overcome his injury but just ran out of time," Chernov added. Onopko's withdrawal means that the Russians have now lost both of their first-choice central defenders. PFC CSKA Moskva's Sergei Ignashevitch, who also has a knee problem, left the squad on Tuesday and is due to undergo surgery next week. Striker Aleksandr Panov was also ruled out of the tournament yesterday.

Squad due

Russia coach Georgi Yartsev is due to name his 23-man squad later on Wednesday. His side begin their EURO 2004â„¢ campaign against Spain on 12 June before taking on hosts Portugal and Greece in later Group A matches.

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Liechtenstein - Greece 0 - 2

warm-up friendly game

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Greece victorious in Vaduz

Liechtenstein 0-2 Greece

Goals in each half from Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas gave Greece victory in an international friendly tonight although the visitors failed to find top form in a lethargic display.

Portuguese test

Despite the victory at a rain-drenched Rheinpark stadium in Vaduz, the Greeks failed to impress just nine days before the opening game in UEFA EURO 2004™, when they face hosts Portugal at the Estádio do Dragão in Group A.

First win in three

The result marked a first victory in three games for the visitors, who lost 4-0 to fellow finalists the Netherlands on 28 April before being edged out 1-0 by Poland at the end of the following month. Tonight's victory, in their final warm-up game, concludes Greece's preparations for Portugal.

Reshuffled lineup

Otto Rehhagel's side were without four first-choice players at the Rheinpark stadium in Vaduz – home to FC Vaduz - including striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis and central defender Nikolaos Dabizas, who are both recovering from minor injuries.

Vryzas pounces

It took 24 minutes for Greece, who finished ahead of Spain in qualifying Group 6 to reach the finals, to crack open a tight Liechtenstein defence when AC Fiorentina striker Vryzas pounced on a loose ball after a Vassilios Tsiartas cross.

Jehle to the rescue

Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis should have doubled the lead five minutes before half-time but his close-range shot was blocked by Liechtenstein goalkeeper Peter Jehle.

Half-time reshuffle

Rehhagel opted to experiment after half-time, reshuffling his lineup to accommodate a more aggressive midfield in the second half with Giorgios Georgiadis replacing Stylianos Giannakopoulos and striker Dimitrios Papadopoulos joining Charisteas up front.

Charisteas converts

SV Werder Bremen forward Charisteas completed the victory when he tapped in with two minutes remaining after Angelos Basinas crossed from the left.

Group A schedule

Following their test against the Portuguese in Porto on 12 June, Greece face Spain on 16 June and finish their Group A campaign against Russia four days later.

©Reuters 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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Once again, a rather dissapointing performance from Greece. We miserably failed to convert chances to goals despite the fact that we were playing against a very weak team. Creativity and pace are non-existent and now we seem to be facing problems even with the players relationships (Nikolaidis requesting his own physio and all). At this moment i'm quite certain that we are going to have a really hard time in Group A and i'm not sure Rehaggel can turn the tables.

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Here's what mr. Rehaggel stated after the match at Vaduz:

Mr. Rehhagel: «We beat a strong team

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Otto Rehhagel commented on τhe tough play of Liechtenstein players after the end of the friendly match in Vanduz, denoting at the same time that he is satisfied with his players΄s performance. The statement of the National Head Coach in detail:

«Eventually, Liechtenstein were a hard opponent. They played tough. They are of young age and they meant to give the best performance they could and shine. At some moments I was so flustered by their extremely tough play that I got up and protested about it. As you all saw for yourselves, they played seriously and made it difficult for us because they played with ten players back. Nevertheless, we created opportunities and we could have scored more goals. I am satisfied with my players because we beat a strong opponent, under the circumstances. I mean constant rain and tough play».

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Here's an in-depth team presentation of the Greek squad straight from the official Greek F.A. website.

Meanwhile, UEFA.com has published a couple of articles about Greece:

Turkish success inspires Greece

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When Turkey finished in third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, some envious glances were cast across the Aegean Sea from their neighbours Greece.

Hopeful moment

However, as coach Otto Rehhagel led his side on a triumphant lap of honour after qualifying for the finals of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ last year, celebrating Greece reaching the UEFA European Championship finals for the first time since 1980, there was a feeling that Greece would be able to match Turkey's achievement.

Proud claim

"We're not going to Portugal as tourists," said central defender Ioannis Goumas, speaking for the many Greeks who have delighted in seeing the national team's rapid development from also-rans to European contenders. "We're here to work hard and to make everyone proud of us."

Foreign exposure

Like Turkey in their time, Greece has benefited from an increased concentration on youth development and an increasing number of players learning their craft at top foreign clubs. Tellingly, eight of the 23 players in Rehhagel's squad are currently based outside the Alpha Ethniki.

'Crucial difference'

"This is a crucial difference," said Alketas Panagoulias, the coach who led Greece to the European Championship in 1980 and the 1994 World Cup. "Back in the old days, the players had a lot of talent - possibly more than today's team - but they did not have any experience of European football."

All for one

Experience is crucial, but so is teamwork, and one thing that has impressed Greeks about the current national team is the way they work for each other. "What we've achieved is a family atmosphere in the squad and my players have learnt to play as a team - we are all for one and one for all," said Rehhagel.

One for all

That cohesion bears the German coach's imprint. On being appointed as coach after Greece's failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, he made team solidarity his first priority. "Greek players, individually, have quality," he said. "But they must learn to play as a unit."

Germanic discipline

With the full support of the Hellenic Football Federation, Rehhagel set about his task of restoring pride to the team and imposing German-style discipline on their play. "Rehhagel has been instrumental," said AS Roma defender Traianos Dellas. "Now we know what we want on the pitch."

Calm address

What they want is vindication. After losing their second consecutive game at the start of the EURO 2004â„¢ qualifying campaign against Ukraine, the coach told his players how much he believed in them and that the only way to eradicate their reputation as losers was to qualify for Portugal. Clearly he touched a nerve. They won their six remaining qualifiers to win a place in the finals.

Portuguese target

The key to their success was a mean defence and an indomitable spirit - something they will bring with them to Portugal. As midfield player Vassilios Tsiartas said: "If we believe we can win and if we have a positive attitude, we can spring a surprise. We must prove that we deserve to be where we are."

First step

For Rehhagel, however, success in Portugal is only the first step. "We must organise the infrastructure departments and invest money in order to produce new talent," he said. "We have to work on the foundations. That is how the future is built." With Greek supporters across the world now hanging on every word the coach says, there is a good chance his dreams could come true after EURO 2004â„¢.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greece's golden boys

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Who is the bright young hope of Greek football?

The Alpha Ethniki's second highest scorer this season with 17 goals, Dimitrios Papadopoulos' tremendous rise since moving to Panathinakos FC last summer has made him Greece's latest sensation. Fast and enthusiastic, when given space he can be a clinical finisher and is also brilliant with his head. At 23, he is on course to be a regular feature in Greece's attack for years to come. Along with Giorgos Seitaridis, he is the youngest player in the senior team.

Is it an exaggeration to say he could be Greece's next goalscoring hero?

Certainly not. At club level, Papadopoulos has shown outstanding consistency. He promised to score 20 goals this season in league and cup competitions and was true to his word as Panathinaikos won the double. His team-mate, and Panathinaikos' all-time top scorer, Kyrstof Warzycha, has acknowledged Papadopoulos as his successor. He scored his first senior international goal in the friendly against Bulgaria in February, and his thumping header opened the way for Panathinaikos' 3-1 cup final win against arch rivals Olympiacos CFP.

Is he likely to play in Portugal?

Now that he has played his first full 90 minutes, he has a great chance. In the absence of regular strikers through injury and club commitments, Papadopoulos was included in the starting line-up in Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Poland. He is, however, more likely to serve as cover for the more experienced Themistoklis Nikolaidis in the lone striker position.

He was born in Kazakhstan. How did he end up playing for Greece?

Yes, he was born in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan but he has Greek parents. He moved to Greece in 1990 and played for Akratitos FC before his transfer to English first division club Burnley FC in 1998. He has won six caps for Greece so far and scored one goal.

What are his weak points?

Perhaps his intensity on the pitch may sometimes land him into trouble as it did midway through the season when he got into a changing room punch-up with team mate Ezekiel Gonzales over a bad pass.

What about his Panathinaikos team-mate Giorgos Seitaridis?

He was the guy who scored a cracking goal against Manchester United FC on his UEFA Champions League debut in March 2001. The right-sided defender's shot put Panathinaikos on course for a famous victory before Paul Scholes got a late equaliser. The 23-year-old likes to race down the right wing and occasionally takes a shot on goal himself. He made his debut in the national squad in February 2002 against Sweden and has already won 18 caps. Ever since he stepped in for the injured Christos Patzatzoglou midway through qualifying he's been a regular starter and helped his defence maintain a clean sheet for five competitive matches.

His injury earlier in the season seems to have taken its toll on his form. Is his star on the wane?

Far from it. He is still highly rated and is being wooed by foreign teams. Seitaridis was reportedly close to a deal with Spanish Champions Valencia CF earlier in the year. Champions League finalists AS Monaco FC and Bundesliga winners SV Werder Bremen have also reportedly shown an interest.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Doctor Who:

What's your probable line-up against Portugal?

What's the chance of Georgiadis making the lineup? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

At this moment, there are quite a few questionmarks with regard to Greece's lineup for the opening game. This is of course because there have been so many injuries lately that have forced Rehaggel to reconsider some of his ideas.

Nikolaidis would have definately started had he not been injured. He has stated that he will be 100% fit come june 12 but everyone that has been following the Greek team in Switzerland has said that such a prospect is very unlikely.

Karagounis has also been facing an injury problem lately and provided that he is fit in time, i expect him to fight for a place in the first eleven with Tsiartas.

Now most people are expecting Rehaggel to use a 5-3-2 formation (he usually does this against strong opposition) but he might go with 4-4-2 mainly because Portugal are playing with just one striker (Pauleta) and it might be a waste for us to have 3 men to watch just one forward.

Personally i think that in the end we will use the 5-3-2 formation.

Here's what kind of formation i would expect:

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Nikolaidis/Papadopoulos

Charisteas

Karagounis Giannakopoulos

^ Zagorakis

|

| ^ ^

| | |

| | |

Fyssas | Seitaridis

Kapsis Katsouranis Dellas

Nikopolidis

</pre>

GK. Nikopolidis

DL. Fyssas

DR. Seitaridis

DC. Kapsis

DC. Dellas

SW. Katsouranis

DMC. Zagorakis

MC. Karagounis

AMR. Giannakopoulos

FLC. Charisteas

SC. Nikolaidis / Papadopoulos

Also, provided that Nikolaidis doesn't make it for the first game, Rehaggel might choose to play both Tsiartas and Karagounis at the expense of Papadopoulos (5-4-1)

Georgiadis' chances of making it to the starting lineup are non-existent.

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Portugal - Lithuania 4 - 1

warm-up friendly game

Portugal ready to go

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Portugal 4-1 Lithuania

Pre-UEFA EURO 2004™ euphoria in Portgual was raised to fever pitch with a comfortable win for the tournament hosts in their last warm-up friendly in Setúbal.

Friendly win

In their 21st friendly international since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Portugal triumphed for the eleventh time - having only lost three of those games - with goals from Fernando Couto, Pauleta, Nuno Gomes and Hélder Postiga.

Fine opening

Hoping for victory seven days before playing the EURO 2004™ opening match against Greece in Porto, Portugal were ahead within three minutes as Couto headed in Luís Figo's corner. Nine minutes later, Pauleta lobbed Lithuanian goalkeeper Gintaras Stauce to double the lead.

Tactical changes

Portugal did not add to the score before the break, but Figo and Simão Sabrosa were running the game from the flanks and Costinha was dominant in midfield. At the break Luiz Felipe Scolari switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 and during the half made ten substitutions.

Late goals

Donatas Vencevicius pulled one back from the penalty spot on 72 minutes, but late on Nuno Gomes shot in and Hélder Postiga made it 4-1 with his header from Miguel's cross.

Scolari 'pleased'

Scolari said of his 4-4-2 experiment: "There were some difficulties for the strikers. We are practising this as an alternative game plan and is natural that it does not work 100 per cent effectively yet. I am pleased with the response of some substitutes and already planning the changes against Greece."

'Patriotic people'

Figo added: "The Portuguese are a patriotic people and I am thankful for their support in our friendlies. I expect the same thing next Saturday!"

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Spain - Andorra 4 - 0

warm-up friendly game

Spain in winning ways

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Spain 4-0 Andorra

Spain kept their UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ preparations on course with a comfortable win in Getafe against tiny neighbours Andorra.

Russia opener

Fernando Morientes and Rubén Baraja gave Spain a 2-0 half-time lead, and Juan Carlos Valerón and César Martín completed the scoreline after the break. The triumph was a boost with Spain just seven days away from their Group A opener against Russia.

Opening goals

Morientes opened the scoring on 25 minutes as he latched on to a Baraja through-ball. Just before the break Txema García tripped Raúl González in the Andorran box and although Koldo Alvarez saved Baraja's penalty, the Valencia CF midfield player converted the rebound.

Aranzubia debut

By the time the second half started ten of the starting lineup had been changed, with Santiago Cañizares having come on for Iker Cassilas in goal on the half-hour. After Cañizares had played his own 30 minutes, Athletic Club Bilbao goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia came on for his senior international debut.

'Hard work'

On 65 minutes Spain were further ahead through César's header and Valerón side-footed in late on. Spain coach Iñaki Sáez said: "It was hard work for us in the first half. We did better in the second half because our midfielders played better."

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

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It is «Portugal time» for Greek A΄ National Team

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Today, 06/06/04, at 13:11 (Portugal time), the Greek A΄ National Team arrived at Porto airport, where the internationals were welcomed by EURO 2004 SA representatives. The players went through passport control with a summary procedure -Schengen Treaty practice has been suspended until the completion of the European Championship tournament- and got on the bus to be driven to their final destination, Vila de Conte. On the bus there was a sign hanging, reading (both in Greek and English): «There were 12 gods in ancient Greece, there are 11 in modern Greece»! It is noted that the internationals will have their training session at 18:00 (local time).

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Zagorakis: «We will not let Greek people down»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Having just arrived -along with his team mates- in Portugal, the captain of Greek A΄National Team, Theodoros Zagorakis, made the following statement to epo.gr: «It is a special moment for each one of us, the 23 football players. This is the highest honour in our career. All of us, for about two years, have made great effort and with Mr. Rehhagel in charge, and H.F.F.΄s unreserved support, we have come here in Portugal today, to participate in the top European competition. We feel that we bear the hopes and expectations of all Greek people, either they live in Greece, or abroad, and we can promise them that we will give it everything we΄ve got, we will exceed our limitations if we have to, so that we don΄t let them down.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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Demis in full training

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Otto Rehhagel was pleasantly surprised today during the evening training session, when Demis Nikolaidis went into full training program with his team mates, in Rio Ave stadium at Vila do Conte.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 8/06/04, the players of the Greek A΄ National Team will go into training only in the evening, at 18:00 local time (20:00 Athens time), whilst on Wednesday, there has been scheduled a morning training session, at 10:00 local time (12:00 Athens time), of no access for the media.

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All well for Seitaridis, Dabizas and Karagounis

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Τhe three out of four, in total, Greek players who did not train with their play mates in their first training session in Portugal, joined them in full training this morning (07/06/04), as had been expected. Namely, Seitaridis, Dabizas and Karagounis did not have a special problem, therefore, they quit special training program. On the contrary, Nikolaidis had special training and he is expected to do the same in the evening session, which will start at 17:30 in Rio Ave (19:30 Athens time).

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Mr. Topalidis΄ views on Portugal vs Lithuania

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

After the end of the evening training session for Α΄ Greek National Team, Mr. Rehhagel΄s associate, Ioannis Topalidis, expressed his views on the match between Portugal and Lithuania. In detail:

«We were not overwhelmed. The match unfolded quite as expected. Portugal are a very good team. They played as usual, with one or two changes in their line-up. They slowed down on their pace after 20 minutes, but that may have been due to the fact that they scored twice very early in the game. They have some excellent forwards, like Figo, Pauleta, Simao».

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Tsiartas: «We are here to win three games»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

«Too many things have been said and we need to clarify. We are here to win three games. We mean to get the three points in the matches against Portugal, Spain and Russia». Vassilis Tsiartas, speaking to Greek and foreign journalists yesterday, 06/06/04, after the first National Teams΄s training session in Portugal, defined the exact aim of the Greek team. «We don΄t mean to finish third of fourth in our group. We are aiming at victory in every match we are going to play», said the international midfielder.

In yesterday΄s training Seitaridis, Karagounis and Dabizas followed a special training program, whilst Nikolaidis stayed at the hotel undergoing special medical treatment.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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«Demis is necessary»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

«Demis is necessary in this major competition». Traianos Dellas made this statement to «ERA SPORT» radio station. The statement of the Greek National Team defender in detail:

«Demis is making a determined effort. We were very happy to see him go through full training. I hope he will not have any other problem. This is a major competition and he is necessary. Anyway, since he has put his mind to it, he will be ready to play».

«We are looking at our rivals straight in the eye. A lot depends on one-one play. We have to be serious. We don΄t have a player who can carry off the match on his own, what we have is a harmoniously working and powerful group. Every team feel fatigue, but we will get over it. The closer we come to Saturday, the less we feel tired. However, it is tall to say we are playing to win Euro. We have been few and far between in such a competition, but we are not going to be an easy target. Nevertheless, I need to say this, there has been a lot of talk, back in Greece, about our winning Euro. Instead of feeling happy for our qualification and participation, we are looking for alibis and pass judgment.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Giannakopoulos: «Not reckoning with us will be a big mistake»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

After last evening΄s (7/06/04) training session, Stelios Giannakopoulos spoke to the journalists about the atmosphere in the National Team and the difficulties of the tournament:

«The recovery of all injured players is a very positive factor, because the coach will be able to make his choice among healthy players. Portugal are high spirited after the match against Lithuania, but we are very optimistic too. We are also coming from a victory against Liechtenstein. It΄s a difficult group, but we have nothing to lose. If we play as a team, we have a good chance to win. Portugal will be under pressure playing at home».

As to Tsiarta΄s statement («We come to win three games»), he denoted:

«I agree with Tsiartas. We are not here as tourists. We are here to fight. Not reckoning with us will be a big mistake. We will play to win all matches. The players are more experienced, since they play abroad and participate in European Championships, like Champions League.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Waist trouble for Dellas

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Traianos Dellas left Rio Ave with waist trouble after the completion of today΄s (8/06/04) training program. Τhe gravity of the situation will be determined in the internationals΄ training session tomorrow, which has been scheduled for 12:00 (Athens time), and will be of no access for the Media. Kostas Katsouranis did not go into training today, as a precaution for a virus situation, whilst, Fanis Katergiannakis had a special training program because of a slight adductor complaint.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by mozza34:

A few questions about the squad

where are Patsatzoglu, Machlas and Zikos??? don't they get in the team anymore? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Patsatzoglou has had a very serious injury and hasn't played football for 2 years.

Machlas isn't as good as he used to be anymore. He hasn't been getting any younger as well.

Zikos is a great defensive midfielder while he has had 2 fantastic seasons at Monaco. Everybody here in Greece have been in favor of him being given a chance but Rehaggel has never considered him a part of the national team.

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Collina to referee opener

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Italian referee Pierluigi Collina has been appointed to take charge of the UEFA EURO 2004™ opening match between tournament hosts Portugal and Greece at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on Saturday. UEFA announced the appointments for the first 12 of the 31 matches today.

Italian team

Collina, the 44-year-old financial adviser from Bologna, will be accompanied on Saturday by assistant referees Marco Ivaldi and Narciso Pisacreta, also from Italy. Alain Hamer from Luxembourg will be the fourth official.

Top matches

In a distinguished career, Collina has refereed the world's top matches. He officiated at the 2002 FIFA World Cup final between Brazil and Germany in Yokohama and the 1999 UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United FC and FC Bayern München in Barcelona. A few weeks ago, Collina took charge of the UEFA Cup final between Valencia CF and Olympique de Marseille in Gothenburg.

Collina reaction

Collina said of his appointment for Saturday's match: "I am very happy. It is the first time that I've ever been appointed for the opening match of a tournament. An opening match is always special."

Meier in Faro/Loulé

Switzerland's Urs Meier will be in charge of the tournament's second game - Saturday's other Group A match between Spain and Russia at the Estádio Algarve in Faro/Loulé. His assistants are his fellow Swiss Francesco Buragina and Rudolf Käppeli, and Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen will act as fourth official.

Group B opener

Lucílio Cardoso Cortez Batista of Portugal has been put in charge of the Group B opener between Switzerland and Croatia in Leiria on Sunday, and will be accompanied by assistants and compatriots Paulo Januário and José Cardinal. The Norwegian Terje Hauge will be the fourth official.

German trio

Sunday's other Group B game between France and England in Lisbon has been assigned to Germany's Markus Merk and his assistants and fellow countrymen Christian Schräer and Jan-Hendrik Salver. Luboš Michel from Slovakia is the fourth official.

Fourth officials

Twelve referees in all are officiating in the tournament and each will work alongside two assistant referees from his own country, as UEFA looks to use the experience and understanding between proven referee teams to achieve consistency in decision-making. Four other referees are also in Portugal as fourth officials for various matches, and together with the other referees, are ready to deputise in the event of injury or illness. Click here to view the EURO 2004â„¢ referee team.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Dellas out, Lakis with strain!

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Traianos Dellas did not go into training today (9/06/04), due to the waist trouble he suffered yesterday. The international defender underwent treatment -which is going to be intensified- so that he can be at Mr. Rehhagel΄s disposal for the match against Portugal next Saturday.

Vassilios Lakis suffered a strain during training, thereupon he quit the program. He is going to undergo intensive medical treatment too, so that he can be ready to play on Saturday.

Finally, Antonios Nikopolidis, who participated in the program for the most part, he had slight back trouble, so he quit training as a precaution.

Today΄s evening is off for the internationals, whilst, tomorrow, 10/06/04, they will go into training at 17:30 (local time).

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Bassinas: «We will give it everything we΄ve got»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Angelos Bassinas, asked by a journalist -after last evening΄s (8/06/04) training session- if the players have put behind them everything that happened in Greece, like Greek Championship, he denoted: «The championship concluded on 22 May, and from now on we are focusing on EURO. It is not a situation that we are familiar with and we mean to do our best».

As to the starting line-up of the first match, denoted: «We all want to play in the match against Portugal, since it is the inaugurate match. However, eleven players form the line-up and they will be the ones the coach will choose. The National Team will fight for this match. What we mean to do, is give it everything we΄ve got. The results have proved that we can make it. We know it is a very demanding task but we have got the potential».

Asked by a Portuguese journalist if they are going to take their chances with offensive play, he said: «Offensive play may not have been our usual approach, but we have always made it. We have achieved important victories, our defense has carried us through qualifying and we are relying on it here too».

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Zagorakis: «We will be perfectly ready»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

After last evening΄s (8/06/04) training session, the captain of the Greek team, Theodoros Zagorakis, made the following statement:

«We are all in good condition as we get closer to our first game. It is positive that every player is at the coach΄s disposal for the game in Portugal».

Asked about his view on Portugal-Lithuania match, he said: «We played Portugal rather recently and we have a good idea about their condition. We will be perfectly ready. We are focusing on the match ahead and that΄s what we have to do now».

«We have reached an understanding, that in this endeavour of ours we will keep our feet on the ground».

«Our qualifying is a success. We have promised everyone that we will do our best. It is common knowledge that this team have been through a lot since we started out in this competition».

Asked by a Portuguese journalist about winning EURO, he said: «I believe that getting here is positive. We all know that such an accomplishment is a difficult task. But we are here to do our best».

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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Right then, tomorrow's the big day icon14.gif

Greece confident of improvement

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Greece central defender Ioannis Goumas is confident that his side can avoid a repeat of their fate in the 1994 FIFA World Cup as they prepare for their opening UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ Group A match against Portugal on Saturday.

Three defeats

Ten years ago the Greeks lost all three matches in their World Cup group in the United States and went home without scoring a goal, conceding ten in the process against Argentina, Bulgaria and Nigeria.

Luck needed

"Anything can happen in football," said Goumas, whose side also face Spain and Russia in the section. "I know it is difficult but why not? With a bit of luck and with the help of God, we can do something positive. What we don't want is a repeat of the performance at the 1994 World Cup."

Defensive duties

The 29-year-old added that he believes the Greek defence will have to be at the peak of their powers if they are to have a chance of beating a Portugal side that is packed with dazzling attacking players like Luís Figo, Pauleta and Rui Costa. "We have to watch our defence," the centre-back acknowledged. "If we can survive the pressure in the opening minutes we can get a result."

Dabizas doubt

The only concern in the Greek camp is over condition of Leicester City FC central defender Nikos Dabizas who sat out training with a hip problem he picked up on Wednesday. However, Otto Rehhagel's team have been boosted by the return to full training of central defender Traianos Dellas, midfield player Vassilios Lakis and leading striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

«Spirit and passion»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Mr. Otto Rehhagel spoke to the journalists right after the completion of today΄s training session about the preparation of the National Team and the interest the fans showed in the internationals΄ training in «Rio Ave» stadium:

«We completed our preparation smoothly. All the players are in good condition, except for Dabizas. There was spirit and passion, as you saw for yourselves during training. Today I saw a lot of people on the tiers, thus proving that football is a feast.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Dellas and Lakis are «OK»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Traianos Dellas and Vassilios Lakis went into training facing no problems today in «Rio Ave» stadium, 10/06/04, along with their team mates. 300 football fans (most of them Portuguese) cheering for the Greek National Team, as well as Greek and international Media representatives, attended the training session. Nikos Dabizas did not train with them, due to a waist complaint which made him sit out. The international defender is undergoing intensive treatment, so that he can be at Mr. Rehhagel΄s disposal.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Goumas:«We set our goals high»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

After the competion of today΄s training session, Greek international Ioannis Goumas gave an interview to the journalists. In detail:

The team proved today that they are on call. Is this a fact?

«Except for Dabizas, who has a small problem, we all have been properly prepared to do our best.»

The Russians seemed troubled after the appointment of the referees for the first two matches of the group. Are you troubled too?

«We do not think about refereeing. What we are focusing on, is to give a better performance than our rivals.»

What are your expectations for the opening match of the tournament?

«The Portuguese are the ones under pressure, since they play at home. We have to keep a strong defense during the first minutes, because they will enter the field high spirited. As time passes the pressure on them will be great. Later, as the match unfolds, we will do our best to make a good result.»

Do you know who are going to be in the starting line-up?

«The coach has not announced the starting line-up to us yet. We are on call. Whoever plays will give their best shot.»

Demis has said that the team must have an aim. Which is the aim of the team in your opinion?

«Our aim is a good performance. Not to fail, like other squads in previous tournaments, the 1994 World Cup for example. Why shouldn΄t we aim at qualifying? We set our goals high, but there are many decisive factors, like good luck and good condition of the team on the day of the match.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Come on Greece!! icon_mad.gif

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Outsiders fancy their chances

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said his players must reach their peak if they are to cause an upset in Saturday's opening UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ match, although they will have to do so without a key defender.

No mistakes

The Greeks take on hosts Portugal at the Estádio do Dragão with few predicting an upset in favour of Rehhagel's men. Speaking at the pre-game press conference, the coach said: "Outsiders always have a chance in football. As long as we minimise our mistakes and play with passion, we'll have a chance to win this match."

Dabizas out

However, those hopes have been dented by the loss of key centre-back Nikolaos Dabizas, who picked up a hip injury on Wednesday and was ruled out on the eve of the game. "Apart from Dabizas, we are ready and prepared for the match," Rehhagel said.

Defensive changes

The coach will likely turn to Traianos Dellas and Mihalis Kapsis in the centre against the Portuguese, although if he plays five at the back then Ioannis Goumas could add extra weight to the rearguard. Giourkas Seitaridis is set for the right-back slot with Stylianos Venetidis or Panagiotis Fyssas on the left.

Home advantage

Focusing on the defence, Rehhagel urged his men to avoid lapses such as that which cost them victory in their last meeting with the Portuguese in November. Vassilios Lakis had put them on course for a notable friendly win only for a second-half Portuguese penalty to make it 1-1 at the end. The coach warned that the hosts would be an even tougher proposition this time around. "They're playing at home and they have great players who want to win the championship," he said.

'Nothing to lose'

Rehhagel believed his side would be able to play without fear, although he admitted: "It's only natural they are stressed but they are also very excited. It's the Portuguese who will have the pressure, all we have to do is prove why we are here. Greece have nothing to lose."

Valuable experience

Looking at the wider Group A picture, the 63-year-old Rehhagel added: "Compared to Portuguese, Spanish and Russian football, we have to be realists. These countries have an impressive track record. Above all, we will gain valuable experience for future tournaments."

Lone striker

The Greeks, who have never won a match at a major finals, have been boosted by the return to full training this week of leading forward Themistoklis Nikolaidis, along with Dellas and Lakis. Rehhagel has shown a preference for the Club Atlético de Madrid player in the lone striker position and he will be given until as late as possible to make the starting lineup.

Striking options

Even if Nikolaidis does not make it, Rehhagel could still play with just one up front and use Zisis Vryzas in that role. If, as many expect, Greece play with two forwards then Vryzas will likely partner Angelos Charisteas.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Maniche takes centre stage

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has named his side for the opening match of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ against Greece and confirmed that Maniche would start alongside FC Porto team-mate Costinha in midfield.

Starting lineup

Scolari announced that Ricardo will play in goal with Paulo Ferreira and Rui Jorge the two full-backs. Fernando Couto will partner Jorge Andrade in the centre of defence, with Maniche joining Costinha in central midfield and Luís Figo and Simão Sabrosa on the wings. Playmaker Rui Costa plays just behind lone striker Pauleta.

Attacking options

"Greece show great defensive consistency, with two solid lines behind the ball," Scolari said when asked about his selection. "Maniche has more to give as an effective offensive presence, including long-range passing and shots on goal.

Total success

"At this moment, tomorrow is the most important game because it is the next. The key for EURO 2004â„¢ is the first and the last game, because if we win both we will totally succeed. Tomorrow we will play with determination and do all we can to achieve a convincing win."

Ten contenders

Despite his optimistic mood, Scolari admitted there were a number of contenders who might ultimately emerge victorious in the competition, saying: "From the 16 teams that have qualified, at least ten are candidates to be in the final."

Portuguese union

Scolari admitted that his side faced additional pressure as hosts, but said: "We live with this pressure every day and know how to be settled and calm. The flags are in the windows and we are together to achieve something important for Portugal."

Figo fit

Figo was also eager for the kick-off, saying: " prepared and fit for the game, which is going to be very difficult if we don't run more than the Greeks. We are anxious to start the competition and pay back all the support that we have received recently."

Couto call

Portugal captain Fernando Couto made an appeal to the fans ahead of the Greece game. "Support our team from the first minute and be behind us whatever happens during the game," he said. "We need all the support to be able to beat our opponents in this competition."

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It appears that the Portuguese starting lineup has been finalized:

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Pauleta

R. Costa

Simão Sabrosa L. Figo

Maniche Costinha

Rui Jorge P. Ferreira

F. Couto J. Andrade

Ricardo

</pre>

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Greece make spectacular start

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Georgios Karagounis took just seven minutes to score the first goal of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ - and give Greece a 1-0 half-time lead against hosts Portugal.

Nikolaidis on bench

With Luiz Felipe Scolari having unexpectedly announced the Portugal lineup on the eve of the match, Maniche starting in midfield alongside Costinha on the pair's club ground, the main speculation surrounded the fitness of Greece's No1 striker, Themistoklis Nikolaidis, who began on the bench.

Great chance

In his absence, Angelos Charisteas took up a position just behind Zisis Vryzas in attack and in the very first minute they combined to create a great chance. Following Luís Figo's reckless challenge on Karagounis, Vryzas escaped down the left and crossed low. The ball ran invitingly for Charisteas, but the SV Werder Bremen man swung and missed it completely.

Early goal

However the visitors took the lead in the seventh minute, and having been the first to settle it was not a complete surprise. There were audible groans as Paulo Ferreira lost possession to Karagounis midway inside his own half. The FC Internazionale midfield player strode forward and planted a low right-footed shot from 15 metres past the despairing dive of Ricardo.

Greek opportunities

Two minutes later it could have been worse for Portugal. This time it was a former Porto player at fault as Jorge Andrade slipped, but Charisteas shot carelessly wide. Then Takis Fyssas volleyed just over from Vryzas's measured cross.

Portugal respond

By now Figo had been stung into action, and when he crossed for Pauleta at the near post Traianos Dellas had to be alert to the danger. Andrade, up for a set-piece, then shot narrowly wide and Pauleta miscontrolled a Maniche through-ball as Portugal began to respond to the situation.

Rui Costa close

But Greece were still playing with confidence and Charisteas sent a powerful header over the bar from a corner before testing Ricardo with a more speculative long-range effort. At the other end a Rui Costa header was just off target from Paulo Ferreira's cross, and Simão Sabrosa slipped past Dellas only for Antonios Nikopolidis to race from his line and rescue Greece.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Group A

Standings

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

---------------------------------------------

| G W D L + - df P |

|Greece 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3 |

|Spain 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 |

---------------------------------------------

|Russia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 |

|Portugal 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 |

---------------------------------------------

</pre>

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by batch:

Greece are rubbish though arent theyicon_frown.gificon_frown.gif

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jerome:

I saw them in Eindhoven. What a sh*te team they have with a sh*te style of play...

I hope they can manage to play a decent style at Euro2004

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Originally posted by Teh Reddiablo:

they 'll lose two, and MIGHT get a draw against Russia.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Originally posted by Bouncerboy13:

I am ready to place a bet that they don't get out of the group

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Originally posted by Terry Cheung :

Greece? Surprise team?

As in it's a surprise they're there. I agree.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Originally posted by Mexes :

icon_biggrin.gifGreece are going to get beaten badly, there one of only 5 teams I've got of having no chance of winning the tournement.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I won't say a thing icon_biggrin.gif

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Group A

Results

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Day 1

-----------------------------

Portugal - Greece 1 - 2

Spain - Russia 1 - 0

</pre>

Standings

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

---------------------------------------------

| G W D L + - df P |

|...........................................|

|Greece 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3 |

|Spain 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3 |

|-------------------------------------------|

|Portugal 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0 |

|Russia 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0 |

---------------------------------------------

</pre>

Top Goalscorers

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

-----------------------------------------------

|Basinas 1 Greece |

|Karagounis 1 Greece |

|Ronaldo 1 Portugal |

|Valeron 1 Spain |

-----------------------------------------------

</pre>

Upcoming Matches

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Day 2

------------------------------

Portugal v Russia

Spain v Greece

</pre>

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Guest Frogman

Surprise result? Maybe. But the fact is that Portugal did not have to qualify. And Finland beat them in friendly at Portugal 4-1 icon_biggrin.gif. Maybe our national team should be there, not Portugal?!

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Terry Cheung:

Well done Greece. Great performance and result. The bookies will be the happiest though.

They still have some work to do to get out of the group. There could really be a battle for 2nd place. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

icon14.gif

Greece's night of celebration

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

It was meant to be Portugal's day of celebration, as they opened UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ on their home turf. But the party was in Greece as Otto Rehhagel's squad shocked the hosts

2-1 in Porto.

Club loyalties put aside

Omonia Square, in the heart of Athens, is usually the focus for Panathinaikos FC celebrations, but club loyalties were replaced by national pride as for the first time a Greece triumph was hailed. Indeed, Greek fans have never had a finals tournament win to wallow in before Saturday.

Breaking news

Even television stations not covering the game broke into their regular programmes to hail the Group A victory. All talk of today's European elections and the continuing saga of the construction of Olympic venues was put on hold thanks to the little matter of goals from Georgios Karagounis and Angelos Basinas.

'Historic victory'

This was not a night to stay in. Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis was among the first to congratulate the Greek squad, sending them a telegram reading: "With this historic victory, the Greece squad earned the respect of Europe and filled each Greek citizen's heart with emotion. I am one of many Greek men and women to send my congratulations to Otto Rehhagel, to the players and to the other members of the Greek squad. I hope for further achievements to come."

Spain up next

Still, it will be back to the televisions on Wednesday as Greece face Spain in Porto's Estádio do Bessa Século XXI. Any repeat of the Estádio do Dragão victory, and Greece could move into the quarter-finals. Should that happen, the scenes produced could eclipse Saturday's and only a gold for Konstadinos Kederis in the Olympic Games 200 metres final is likely to come close.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greeks take victory in their stride

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Despite yesterday's shock defeat of host nation Portugal at the Estádio do Dragão, the Greek camp was surprisingly composed this morning.

'Discipline and organisation'

Their 2-1 win was down to "discipline and organisation" according to midfield player Angelos Basinas. The Panathinaikos FC captain, whose second-half penalty doubled the Greeks' lead, said: "You never expect to lose a match before it starts, it's always 50-50. The secret of our success was that we stifled our opponents' game."

Unbeaten run

Echoing his team-mate's sentiments, goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis told euro2004.com: "We did not allow them to play their game, we were focused and organised. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground and look ahead to the next match." Portugal's late consolation goal ended Nikopolidis's run of six consecutive clean sheets in competitive matches, but did not stop their sequence of victories in this competition - qualifiers included - stretching to seven.

Great support

Midfield player Georgios Karagounis, who scored the opening goal of the tournament, paid tribute to the 3,000 Greek supporters inside the stadium. "It's always great to receive such support playing for the national team, especially when it's an away match," the FC Internazionale player said. "I experienced something similar at Panathinaikos FC in the [uEFA] Champions League, but nothing can compare to this."

Quiet confidence

Only Stelios Giannakopoulos refused to play down the result. "Without doubt this is the greatest success in the national squad's history," the Bolton Wanderers FC player said. It is a success that Konstantinos Katsouranis hopes will spur the team on. "We are proud of the result and we proved that it wasn't luck that got us to the finals," he said. "If we play the same way in the remaining matches then we have a very good chance to qualify."

Two rested

Greece's next match is against Spain on Wednesday. Regarding today's training, Karagounis did not train today to rest a troublesome ankle while Giourkas Seitaridis also sat out to protect a minor knock but neither are considered serious problems.

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Portuguese freeze on big stage

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

The weight of expectation, built up over two years, proved far too much for the Portuguese team to handle in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢. Up against a surprisingly confident and well-organised Greek team, Luiz Felipe Scolari's men had no answers to the problems they posed.

Lack of belief

An early goal in each half sucked the life and belief out of the host nation, for whom Luís Figo stood out for his endeavour; but until substitutes Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco appeared for the second half, the Real Madrid CF star was conspicuously short of supporting actors.

Basinas converts

Greece, on the other hand, had to pinch themselves after Angelos Basinas put them 2-0 up in the 51st minute from a penalty. It was conceded by Ronaldo for a foul on Giourkas Seitaridis, playing on what could soon be his home ground if he makes his expected move from Panathinaikos FC later in the summer.

'Dream start'

Greece played better than many of their regular observers have seen them play for a long time. They were disciplined, passionate, focused and lacking in the fear that sometime grips them on big stages. And their joy was summed up by Stelios Giannakopoulos, who said: "It is a dream start. Who could have guessed that we would get three points out of our first match - and against the hosts."

'No stress'

Georgios Karagounis, who opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a firm drive from the edge of the penalty area, said: "We came to play in this feast of football without any experience, but also without stress. The nervousness was evident in the Portuguese players, who were playing in front of their crowd.

'Great day'

"We all gave it our best and now we are celebrating Greece's first win in a major tournament. It's a great day for Greek football. But three points don't guarantee qualification for the quarter-finals. So we must stay focused, because on Wednesday we have a very important match against Spain."

'Successful strategy'

His coach Otto Rehhagel said: "The strategy and tactics that we have applied have been successful. We will rest tonight and of course we will concentrate on our next game against Spain. Greece always had very good individual players, but now we have a very good and co-ordinated team. Everyone is working together to achieve the same goal."

Individual errors

For his part, Scolari said: "We made some individual mistakes which led to the early advantage for Greece. Then the Greeks defended very well and played on the counterattack. In the second half we made our second mistake and suffered the second goal.

Two wins required

"Both teams were very nervous. In the second half Portugal pushed the Greeks back and managed to shoot more often but we were not able to score. Now we need to win the next two matches. Next Wednesday, against Russia, will be all or nothing for Portugal, with the support of our fans."

'Unfair result'

Meanwhile, Figo - whose corner led to Ronaldo's consolation - said: "In a tournament like the EURO we cannot make these kind of mistakes. Nevertheless, looking at the match, I don't think it was a fair result. We tried to fight but we lost the second ball often, had to recover very quickly and lost control of the midfield.

Second goal decisive

"I think the second goal decided the game. The Greeks then sat back to defend and secured the result very well. We were not expecting to lose this game. Now we must overcome this result."

Venglos view

Jozef Venglos, the former Czechoslovakia national coach and now chairman of the UEFA Technical Development Committee, said: "Many people in Europe will be surprised by this result. It's always difficult to play the opening game as favourites, and after Greece scored the opening goal they dictated the pattern of the game.

Portuguese pressure

"They played well as a team, well organised by their captain [Man of the Match Theodoros Zagorakis], both central defenders played well and they counterattacked well. Portugal were under a lot of pressure psychologically, and although Figo played well, he did not get enough support."

©uefa.com 1998-2004. All rights reserved.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rehhagel: «We really want to succeed here»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

German coach, Otto Rehhagel, in the statement he made after today΄s (13/06/04) training session of Greece National Team in Rio Ave, denoted that the squad΄s will is for their efforts to meet with success in Portuguese stadiums and he underlined that they will be aiming at victory in the match against Spain. The statement in detail:

«We started playing with three forwards. The result came as a surprise to everyone.

Now our will is to advance in the competition, we really want to succeed here. The team feel high spirited and we are going to play to win in our next match, against Spain. As I said yesterday, all Greeks should have Greek flags streaming in the wind on their balcony. We want to savour this success too, to feel people΄s joy. The team have managed to come in the spotlight. Whenever we loose, we are being criticized but now we want to enjoy. We have to play well, we will be in the public eye these days. The players are excited, but the coaching team have to make them settle down.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Giannakopoulos΄ and Seitaridis΄ statements

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Stylianos Giannakopoulos and Georgios Seitaridis underlined that the National Team΄s success in EURO 2004 inaugurate match was a great achievement and emphasized the importance of continuing in the same winning ways. In detail:

Giannakopoulos: «This result has been a great success for Greece, still, we have to keep our feet on the ground. Now we have the match against Spain -which is a very strong opponent- ahead of us.»

Seitaridis: «With our performance and the outcome of the match against Portugal we have proven that we are a team to be reckoned with. Now we need to keep up the same way in the matches to come.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Fyssas: «It will always be remembered»

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Takis Fyssas denoted that the opening match in «Dragao» stadium last Saturday will always be remembered by the internationals moment by moment. In detail:

«It was a memorable victory, the greatness of which we realized hours after the end of the match. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground and settle down. We have the match against Spain ahead of us. Going to our rooms to rest we were thinking of this match. It is different from the previous one. We are waiting to get instructions by Mr. Rehhagel and we will play accordingly. We are under heavier obligations now. The moments of yesterday΄s match will always be remembered. I know we gave great happiness to all Greeks, watching children, as well as, older people celebrating our success, gives one a fantastic feeling.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Seitaridis, Karagounis and Dabizas sat out training

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Georgios Seitaridis, Georgios Karagounis and Nikos Dabizas did not go into training in the first session after the success of the Greece team in EURO 2004 opening match. Seitaridis had a leg complaint and underwent treatment, whilst Karagounis has a small ankle problem and is also being treated for it. Nikos Dabizas went into a special training program, whilst the pain in his waist is fading. He is also under medical treatment. The players of the Greece team took the rest of the day off.

The next training session of the National Team will take place on Monday, 14 June at 17:30 in Rio Ave and it will be of access for the Media.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Congratulations from Kostas Karamanlis

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

The Prime Minister of Greece, Kostas Karamanlis, made the following statement on account of the Greece National Team΄s win against Portugal: «With this historic victory, our A΄ National Team has earned the respect of European sports world and touched all Greeks. I offer my heartiest congratulations, along with all Greek people, to Mr. Otto Rehhagel, the players, as well as, all the members of the Greek delegation. I wish for the Greece team to have more successful outcomes like this one during EURO 2004 Final Round.»

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by spotg:

Fantastic result, and fully deserved.

I was really impressed with Charisteas and Vrysas up front, and Dellas looked quality at the back. Didn't he play for Sheffield Utd for a while? icon_eek.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Charisteas the No.9? He looked fb until he got into the area. Couldn't shoot at all.

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