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


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Otto Rehhagel: «We should make the best out of it»

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«I had told my players that Russians are very skilled players and they should be on guard. What matters is that although we were left behind 2-0, we managed to go up 2-1 and get back in the game again. We had the strength to do it, and now, we are eventually celebrating our qualification for the quarter-finals. We all want the best to come out of this success, and I have already discussed the issue with the president of the Federation. He told me that a lot of hard and thorough work is going to be done as to infrastructure, in order for Greek football to develop, in even more successful ways. I don΄t care which team we are going to take on in the next phase. For the time being we are celebrating, and later on we are going to get some rest, so that we can be ready for our next opponent. German journalists had said in the past that Rehhagel can only work with Werder Bremen. Now it΄s been proven that I can work just anywhere.»

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Greece players΄ statements

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Right after the end of the match against Russia, Greece players made statements to the Media:

Vryzas: «I don΄t think we need to discuss today΄s match against Russia. We don΄t have the strength to do it right now. I can only say that we were taken by surprise on the first goal we conceded. My wish was for us to qualify and I feel proud we have made it. When I shot I meant to see the ball in the net.»

Zagorakis: «We have not quite realized what we have achieved yet. It΄s a unique moment for Greek football and for me personally. I never thought that I would have such an experience wearing Greece shirt. What really matters is that we made all Greeks happy with our qualification for the quarter-finals. »

Tsiartas: «The important thing is that we managed to qualify for the quarter-finals despite losing to Russia. We are not a better team than Spain, but we had courage and zest that helped us go through into the quarter-finals. We should not loose our heads. We should keep our feet on the ground and wait calmly to find out who is going to be our opponent in the next match.»

Katergiannakis: «I could not feel my heartbeat for 90 minutes. I realized it΄s still in its place as soon as the final whistle was blown. The qualification is a huge success and we feel all high on emotion for giving our fellow Greeks the right to celebrate Greek football.»

Nikolaidis: «I had a premonition that my career would not come to an end just like that. We are one of the 8 best teams in Europe. We deal with every match separately and that has helped us to reach this point. This qualification is the best thing that could have happened to us.»

Giannakopoulos: «It΄s better to be onto the field playing than sitting on the bench. There too much stress when you are out watching the match, whilst, when you are in you can let your emotions come out. I will try to help the team as much as I can. What we did is a huge success for Greek football.»

Fyssas: «Everybody is glad for our success, it is something nobody could have foreseen. We let Spain out of the tounament. We are all proud of this team. The best teams in Europe participate in the quarter-finals. We need to be focused and on alert. We all have celebrated, we all feel great joy.»

Nikopolidis: «It was a very difficult task and we came off. We believed in our qualifying. We are not happy as to the result, but we are as to having qualified. We conceded two goals but we managed to score the goal that gave us qualification. We were under great pressure because we wanted the result.»

Kapsis: «No one could have imagined the first 20 minutes of this match. Nevertheless, we scored and eventually we celebrated. What we need now is peace and rest. We should be focused on the next match, no matter who our opponent is.»

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The day off for the internationals

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Mr. Rehhagel decided that the internationals should take the day off today, Monday 21/06/2004, thus the training session scheduled for 11:00 am has been cancelled. The squad arrived in Lisbon this afternoon.

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Tuesday (17:30) the next training session

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The next training session of Greece National Team has been scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday 22 June, 17:30 pm, at «Real Sports Club», in Massama (in the outskirts of Lisbon). Tomorrow΄s session will be of access for the Media.

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Otto Rehhagel: «We are glad to play this team»

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Greece coach, Otto Rehhagel, referred to the match against France in the statement he made, after the end of today΄s training:

«We felt used up -both physically and mentally- after the match against Russia. Now we need to rest, so that we can give a good performance against France. We are glad to play this team, there are hard to take on even in a friendly match. I hope we can make a passionate and high spirited display onto the field. France players are playing with big clubs, they have conquered everything. I hope we can resist them.»

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Charisteas΄, Tsiartas΄ and Vryzas΄ statements

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After concluding today΄s training session Angelos Charisteas, Zissis Vryzas and Vassilios Tsiartas made statements for the Media, referring to the match against France, for EURO 2004 quarter-final phase. In detail:

Charisteas: «I consider France one of the favourites for winning EURO 2004. There are great players amongst them, and the best player in the world, in my opinion, Zinedine Zidane. To play such an excellent team is certainly a challenge for us, but we΄ve got nothing to lose. We are going to be self-confident on the field, regardless who our opponents are. »

Tsiartas: «The match against France is going to be a tough one. France have been playing together for quite a while and they work very well together. There are great players amongst them, like Zidane, Trezeguet, Henry Pires. They didn΄t play very well during first half-time, but they showed some of their potential. The match is within our range, if we avoid making mistakes. We will go onto the field to enjoy the game. Anything can happen in football. What matters is that we qualified.»

Vryzas: «We are going to deal with the match against France just as we have with previous matches. We will try to do our best and take on the excellent players of France. I hope that we will go through, so that I play in the semi-finals.»

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The National Team΄s training session

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All the internationals participated in today΄s training session. Stelios Giannakopoulos had a special training program. The next session has been scheduled for Wednesday, 23 June, at 17:30 in «Real Sport Club» in Masama. The session will be of access for the Media.

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Greece wait on Giannakopoulos

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Greece are faced with the prospect of going into Friday's UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ quarter-final against France without key midfield player Stylianos Giannakopoulos because of a nagging calf injury.

Far from certain

Giannakopoulos, who missed Sunday's 2-1 defeat by Russia, trained by himself today and his return to full training tomorrow is far from certain. "The team doctor said he will try to return to full training tomorrow," said Greece's media officer Mihalis Tsapidis. Central defender Traianos Dellas also trained apart but is expected to be ready in time. "He is being rested, it is nothing serious," Tsapidis added.

Vryzas suspended

Coach Otto Rehhagel will also be without Zisis Vryzas, who collected his second yellow card of the tournament against Russia on Sunday, but he can at least welcome back playmaker Georgios Karagounis who has served a one-match ban.

'Outsiders'

As Greece gear up for the clash at the Estádio José Alvalade, midfield player Vassilios Tsiartas is perfectly aware of the task at hand. "It would be a lie to say that we are not the outsiders. But each team came here with its own probabilities.

'No huge differences'

"We are in the last eight and we have to make the most of our chance," he said. "If you think before a match begins that you are going to lose, then you have no hope of achieving anything. Don't forget that there aren't huge differences between teams any more."

'You can only learn'

That said, Tsiartas added that playing against France, and Zinedine Zidane in particular, can only be a plus. "You can only learn playing against Zidane. I am very pleased that we're playing against such a quality team."

Increased bonus

Greece will receive a boost from an estimated 5,000 travelling fans, who since Sunday have flooded Greek travel agents with requests for weekend packages to Portugal. Whatever the result on Friday, the players insist that getting so far in the tournament is a huge achievement. This has been recognised by the Hellenic Football Federation, which yesterday announced it has increased the bonus it promised to the players for reaching the quarter-finals from €2m to €2.3m.

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

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Nikopolidis΄ and Tsiartas΄ statements

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After concluding today΄s training session, Antonios Nikopolidis and Vassilios Tsiartas spoke to Greek and foreign journalists about the match against France, which is going to take place on Friday:

Nikopolidis: «The atmosphere in the team has been and remains excellent. We are ready for the match against France on Friday. We came here to make a name for the Greek football, the National Team and us, the players. We all have to believe in Greel football. We know that France are the favourites for winning EURO. We have nothing to lose in this match, but there is a lot for us to gain. We are the «underdogs», if we get a chance we will make the best out of it. We know quite well how each one of France footballers play. To take on such good players is a pleasure.»

Tsiartas: «Saying we are not the «underdogs» would be a lie. All eight teams that have gone through have their chance for qualifying. As to us, we are going to take all our chances. Anyone going onto the field thinking of the defeat, shouldn΄t start playing. I am sure that France will not underestimate us. The situation in football has changed, there are not huge differences in performing between teams. I was glad when I heard we were going to play France. They play high quality football and there are great players amongst them. When you take on such a good team, there is a lot to gain. With Zidane as a rival, one can only learn.»

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Mr. Rehhagel΄s press conference tomorrow at 14:00

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Mr. Otto Rehhagel is going to hold a press conference tomorrow, Thursday 24/06/04, 14:00 (local time) at Hotel Sheraton, in view of the quarter-finals match against France. The last training session -prior to the match on Friday- of the National Team will take place on Thursday, at 19:30 (local time), at «Alvalade» stadium in Lisbon. All internationals went into full training today, apart from Traianos Dellas and Stylianos Giannakopoulos, who went into a special training program. The medical team made known that Dellas is going into full training tomorrow, since the reason for his not participating in it today was fatigue, whilst, Giannakopoulos will attempt to train with his team-mates tomorrow.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> So what? What's the problem? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Err, you havent figure it out yet?

We play football not wrestling.

Where is the fair play in a match of 7 or 8 yellow cards. You get injuries and then you miss your best players and so on. I can keep goin on this subject but i will stop. I think i made my point. I want to see Greece play well in the match agaisnt France and i hope we will win. That will be the best Friday night for years to come!!!

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

Err, you havent figure it out yet?

We play football not wrestling.

Where is the fair play in a match of 7 or 8 yellow cards. You get injuries and then you miss your best players and so on. I can keep goin on this subject but i will stop. I think i made my point. I want to see Greece play well in the match agaisnt France and i hope we will win. That will be the best Friday night for years to come!!! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I was refering to your commment about the Turks congratulating us on our success. You seem bothered that those who sent e-mails to the Greek football association described us as 'brothers'?

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Rehhagel: «If we go down, we΄ll go down like heroes»

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Mr. Rehhagel΄s press conference for Greek and foreign journalists, in view of tomorrow΄s quarter-finals match, has concluded. Mr. Rehhagel made a small statement at the beginning:

«Our dream has come true. We are going to play France in a quarter-finals match for EURO 2004. We are going to take on a team that have won the World Cup, the European Championship and many of their players have won Champions League with their clubs. Most of them are between 24 and 30 years of age, which is the ideal age as to football. They make the right moves in the pitch and excellent combinations.»

Greece are the surprise package of the European Championship. But is it a real surprise to you that Greece have gone this far?

«Tournaments like this one live on this kind of surprise. There is always a surprise-team that progress. But only the best ones reach the final.»

Have you settled on the final line-up by now? Is Giannakopoulos going to play?

«I haven΄t reached my final decision as to the starting line-up for the match against France yet. As to Giannakopoulos, I will make my mind up after today΄s training session.»

Do you detect any weaknesses in France΄s play, especially in midfield?

«I don΄t see any weaknesses. France are a great team. We will try to take advantage of every opportunity to prove we deserved to come that far.»

We have been watching the National Team getting increasingly stressed and giving a poorer performance as the tournament unfolded. Are the players under strain in view of the match against France?

«The players are under no strain. They will go onto the field to enjoy the game. With Russia we were very close to qualifying, to success, therefore it was normal. But now, there is no stress. We are going to enjoy ourselves, and if we go down, we΄ll go down like heroes.»

How do you feel about being the last German left in the competition?

«I have been employed by the Hellenic Football Federation to bring success to the team. That΄s the reason for our cooperation and that΄s the important thing to me.»

We would like to have your comments on the following statement made by Pires: «It is hard to score against Greece. In order to do that one has to give them space to unfold.»

«That΄s tactics and I discuss those things with the team. Tomorrow you will see the result.»

Should we be expecting any more surprises from Greece during the tournament?

«What we are focusing on is the match against France, for the players with problems to get well and be ready for tomorrow΄s match.»

You come in touch with the players on an every day basis, you are with them all the time. How do they deal with tomorrow΄s match, what are their expectations?

«They are really looking forward to it. We have been together since May 26, and my advice to them has been that team spirit is the most important thing, in, as well as, out of the pitch, and they have been having the proper attitude.»

A lot of people want to come and see the National Team play following the great success and your calling on them. How do you feel about that?

«We are very happy that so many people want to come to Lisbon. Qualifying has been a great achievement for the players and we are expecting people to come and support the team.»

What would you have to say to Vryzas, who is upset on account of his not being able to play on Friday?

«The rules of the competition are very specific. He knew that all along. He is really upset, but there is no way to change that.»

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Dellas΄ and Kapsis΄ statements

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Traianos Dellas and Michail Kapsis made statements, in reference to tomorrow΄s EURO 2004 quarter- finals match against France.

Dellas: «Nothing like this has ever happened to any of us. We have proven that we deserve to be here. The match against France is going to be a tough one. There is eight of us in the game at this point, why not make it to four. We are aware of the quality of the team we are to take on, we know who our rivals are. Discipline and concentration are the qualities we need on Friday. Italy΄s staying out was a surprise, our qualifying was a surprise and Spain΄s staying out was a surprise too. That΄s football, full of unforeseen outcomes.»

Kapsis: «We need to keep our feet on the ground in the match against France. Before going onto the field one has to be respectful of the rivals and once in the pitch one has to look at them straight in the eye. We will go in to get the best result possible. We are satisfied to have reached this point. We feel fatigue, but I believe that each one of us will do everything in his power until Friday to help the coach and the team.»

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Rehhagel demands heroics

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Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has said his men will play like heroes when they take on France in Friday's quarter-final at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.

'Fall like heroes'

"Against Russia we were stressed because we knew that qualification depended on the result. Tomorrow we will enjoy the match and even if we lose, my players will fall like heroes," Rehhagel insisted at a press conference on Thursday as his side look to bounce back from Sunday's nervy 2-1 defeat by Russia that almost cost Greece a place in the last eight.

'Always surprises'

Greece finished second behind Portugal in Group A, eliminating Spain in the process, to fulfil Rehhagel's dream of reaching the quarter-finals. But the 63-year-old said he was not surprised by their progress. "There are always surprises in tournaments and this time it is us," he said.

'Fully concentrated'

Against the holders, he added, Greece will have to be at their best. "We have to be fully concentrated as we are playing against the European champions," he said. "Some of the French players have also won the UEFA Champions League. They are exceptional in all areas and are in their prime. It's up to us to do the best we can and prove why we reached the quarter-finals."

Vryzas suspended

Greece are expected to revert to their more familiar 4-4-2 formation after playing three strikers in the loss to Russia. Rehhagel will be without suspended striker Zisis Vryzas, who collected his second yellow card of the tournament on Sunday, and is expected to pair Angelos Charisteas with Themistoklis Nikolaidis or Dimitrios Papadopoulos in attack.

Giannakopoulos doubt

Doubts remain over Stylianos Giannakopoulos because of a nagging calf injury, but Rehhagel welcomes back FC Internazionale midfield player Georgios Karagounis who served a one-match ban against Russia. "We will know if Giannakopoulos can play tonight after training," Rehhagel said.

Karagounis free role

In midfield, Konstantinos Katsouranis is expected to operate behind AEK Athens FC team-mates Theodoros Zagorakis and Vassilios Tsiartas, while Karagounis should add some creativity in a free role.

Dellas key

No major changes are expected at the back as Traianos Dellas and Mihalis Kapsis have, so far, played a key role in the Greek campaign. The same holds true for Giourkas Seitaridis on the right side of defence. Panagiotis Fyssas and Stylianos Venetidis are battling for the left-back position.

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

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Greeks planting seeds of doubt

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If the eight quarter-finalists had been subject to Wimbledon-style seedings, the meeting of France and Greece at the Estádio José Alvalade on Friday evening would be first seeds versus eighth, the defending champions and favourites against the rank outsiders.

Experts incorrect

But Greece, enjoying the adventure of their footballing lives, have been here before: just under two weeks ago, in fact, when they faced the hosts, Portugal, in the opening game of the tournament and were given very little chance by most experts. On that occasion of course they not only won, but won well. So what price a first-ever win for Greece against France and the adventure continuing into next week?

Confidence eroded

Much will depend on the discipline and organisation that coach Otto Rehhagel has injected into the team, as well as how well Greece have recovered from the shock of nearly blowing their golden opportunity against Russia in their final group game. Some of the confidence built up during good performances against Portugal and Spain may have been eroded.

Nikolaidis doubts

Rehhagel is expected to revert to a 4-4-2 formation, after the experiment of playing with three strikers against Russia backfired. As usual, doubts surround the participation of star striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis, yet to start a finals match after recent injury and yet to fully convince as a substitute.

Karagounis poised

With fellow forward Zisis Vryzas suspended, Angelos Charisteas will be joined in attack by Nikolaidis or Dimitrios Papadopoulos. Georgios Karagounis is set to return to midfield following his suspension, although AEK Athens FC's Vassilios Lakis is also a contender for the right-sided midfield slot and Stylianos Giannakopoulos is still recovering from a calf injury.

'Extraordinary skills'

"We will go on enjoying ourselves, happy to be playing our best, but we will play so that all of Greece can say that we fought like heroes," Rehhagel said on Thursday. "The French are amazing players, with extraordinary skills and for us it will definitely be a challenge."

Unbeaten run

As if the task of facing Zinedine Zidane and company were not daunting enough for Greece, the holders go into the game on the back of a 16-match unbeaten run in competitive football; yet the feeling persists that they have still not hit top gear, and their coach Jacques Santini knows that important questions have to be answered.

Sagnol sidelined

One of those – a lack of goals for Thierry Henry – was answered in the affirmative in their last group outing against Switzerland, but injury in that match to defender Willy Sagnol disrupted any plans the coach might have had of naming an unchanged team.

Vieira struggling

Better news for Santini is that William Gallas, also injured against Switzerland, seems to have recovered, although the big worry for France now is Patrick Vieira, who is struggling with a leg muscle injury. Olivier Dacourt, who could meet his AS Roma team-mate Traianos Dellas, stands by to replace Vieira.

Greece (possible): Nikopolidis; Seitaridis, Kapsis, Dellas, Fyssas/Venetidis; Katsouranis; Karagounis/Lakis, Zagorakis, Tsiartas; Charisteas, Nikolaidis/Papadopoulos.

France (probable): Barthez; Gallas, Thuram, Silvestre, Lizarazu; Makelele, Dacourt/Vieira, Pires; Zidane; Henry, Trezeguet.

Referee: Anders Frisk (Swe).

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

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Wenger's warning to France

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France may have to show patience against a stubborn Greece side tonight, according to Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger.

Favourites

The holders meet Greece in the second quarter-final at the Estádio José Alvalade and while Wenger considers them clear favourites to advance, he warned that the Greeks' good organisation could make life difficult for Les Bleus.

'Tight marking'

Wenger told euro2004.com: "Greece's very tight marking, the way they play man to man, that's a problem France will face. Greece will try to play on the break so France must be patient and have good movement of the ball. Apart from that I think France are logically super favourites."

Late goals

France needed late goals to beat England and Switzerland in the group stage and Wenger admitted they had not been at their best so far in the tournament. "Switzerland made it difficult for France but the most important thing is to win the game," he said.

'Not completely convincing'

"They know themselves they were not completely convincing, but they've gone through with no defeat until now and even when France do not play well, you smell always that they can score goals because of the quality they have."

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

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Dellas buoyed up

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When Traianos Dellas left AEK Athens FC three years ago for AC Peruggia and the bright lights of Italian football, few would have believed he would have ended up marshalling the defence of Serie A giants AS Roma.

Unexpected run

But then Greece were not tipped to earn a UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ quarter-final against France tonight either. To the towering central defender, though, surprises are what the game is all about. "That's what makes football what it is, it's very unpredictable," he told euro2004.com. "Seeing Italy go out was a huge surprise as was our qualification for the quarter-finals. Spain's exit was also unexpected."

New strength

Spain were pipped by Greece into second place behind Portugal in Group A. Now the Greeks face the reigning champions at the Estádio José Alvalade in a match which Dellas hopes will provide further evidence that Greece are no longer pushovers. "We feel that it proves, without a doubt, that our national squad fully deserves to be here," he said.

Late bloomer

Most effective as a sweeper in a three-man central defence, Dellas played a pivotal role in Otto Rehhagel's plans since he took over the Greek team in 2001. Before Rehhagel's arrival, Dellas struggled and he is considered a late bloomer as he won his first full international cap at the age of 25 despite being part of the Greece side that played in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final against Spain in 1998.

Determined marking

His consistency and determined marking soon won Rehhagel's confidence and, at 28, he is now a permanent feature in the Greek defence that kept clean sheet after clean sheet in qualifying. Indeed, his performances against the likes of Luís Figo and Raúl González have increased Dellas's fame to epic proportions in Greece.

No fear

So what about France, not short of big names themselves? "It will be a very difficult match," Dellas admits. "But we are ready for it and we have no fear. We made it to the final 16, now we are in the last eight. Why not the final four? France are a great team but we do not feel fear."

Huge achievement

Whatever happens, Greece have achieved much here. Before the tournament Greece had never won a match at a major finals and getting this far in the tournament is something even the team's most seasoned players are trying to get used to. The achievement carries added weight given that the national squad were routinely dismissed back home as perennial underachievers.

Keeping calm

"This is definitely a first for all of us. We've never experienced anything like this before," he said. But that does not mean Dellas and co are not taking success in their stride. Heeding Rehhagel's call to his players to keep their feet on the ground after the 2-1 defeat of Portugal, Dellas insists that Greece are not the finished article yet.

No 'super team'

"We have not become a super team overnight," he said. "We cannot think that, we are a good team but we still have a long way to go," he said. That said, Dellas is confident that Greece will continue to blossom after this tournament.

'Anything can happen'

"If this team continues to play together in the future then you can be sure we will continue to bring in the results," he said. In the meantime, all eyes will be on him on Friday as he faces the challenges of Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane. The odds are against the Greeks, but that was also the case before the tournament and according to Dellas: "Anything can happen!"

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

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Saha so good

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No one was happier than Louis Saha when the France squad for UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ was announced. But having made the initial cut, the Manchester United FC forward would like nothing more than the chance to flaunt his skills alongside Thierry Henry as the holders prepare for their quarter-final against Greece.

Positive impact

France's tournament might be three games old, but so far Saha has tasted only 15 minutes of action. Having teed up Henry for his first strike against Switzerland, however, Saha believes he can go on to make a significant impact in Portugal. "When I came on I was desperate to have a positive influence on the game," he told euro2004.com. "Obviously, my assist for Henry was a special moment for me, especially after spending 60 minutes kicking my heels on the bench."

Memorable season

Saha enjoyed a memorable season in the English Premiership. Not only did he top the league's scoring charts in the autumn thanks to a purple patch with Fulham FC; he then went on to register seven goals in ten starts following an €18.5m transfer to Old Trafford. But like all ambitious players, Saha confessed there is still much to do before he can be compared to the likes of Henry and David Trezeguet.

World class

"When you see Henry and Trezeguet in training, you realise they are more experienced and far ahead from you," the 25-year-old said. "I keep watching them in order to learn. There is no need to say anything - it is a wonderful experience just to train with them, but at the same time it is a huge frustration being stuck on the bench for games."

Championship form

Indeed, frustration has been the name of the game for France as they struggle to find the form which saw them win the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000â„¢. Saha, however, maintains it will all come together for Jacques Santini's side thanks to a combination of natural talent and team spirit.

High spirits

"There is a great atmosphere in the camp ahead of the Greece game," said Saha. "I have heard people say we are not playing well enough to win but that is not true. We won our group and are only at the quarter-final stage - there is still time to show how good we can be."

Club v country

Saha may strut his stuff for United, arguably the most famous club in the world, but he is still amazed just how different it feels to slip on the blue shirt and represent his country. "There is a huge gap between playing for Manchester United and France," he confessed. "I do not mean in terms of atmosphere, which is similar. It is just an amazing feeling to pull on the shirt for your country and represent your nation. There are so many fighters in the squad which will certainly help us in our quest for glory."

Greek challenge

France will need to draw upon their competitive spirit when a dogged Greece side, the surprise package of the tournament, take them on in Lisbon. "We are aware that this is going to be really tough. When you see teams like Greece, Switzerland and Latvia causing serious problems for the so-called big nations like Spain and Germany, you realise that you have to be strong in your mind."

©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 Missuk:

Were have all the people gone, who on the first page were calling us rubbish icon_biggrin.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

They'll probably show up and start posting bitter comments about how Czech republic will thrash us in the semi-final \o/

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France - Greece 0 - 1

Charisteas '65

Slick Greece shock holders

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

Greece pulled off the biggest shock of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ here tonight when they beat France for the first time in their history to reach the semi-finals where they will meet the Czech Republic or Denmark.

Favourites fall

A goal after 65 minutes by Angelos Charisteas sent the defending champions crashing out of the competition along with fellow former winners Italy, Germany and Spain. France, with Thierry Henry struggling to re-produce his best form and Patrick Vieira out injured, were heavily reliant on the skills of Zinedine Zidane, but for once the great man was unable to inspire his team-mates sufficiently.

Three new faces

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel made three changes to the side beaten by Russia in their final group match, striker Demis Nikolaidis making his first start of the tournament, midfield player Georgios Karagounis returning from suspension and Panagiotis Fyssas preferred to Stylianos Venetidis at left-back. For France injuries to Vieira and Willy Sagnol gave Olivier Dacourt and William Gallas starting places.

Greece chances

Nikolaidis, Greece's leading goalscorer, was involved straight away, chasing down a flick-on from strike partner Charisteas but Lilian Thuram was across to cover for France. Fyssas then crossed dangerously for Charisteas but the SV Werder Bremen man could not quite get his head to the ball.

Yellow cards

Karagounis wasted little time in adding another yellow card to his collection, this time for holding back Zidane - before the half was out, the compliment would be returned - but Nikolaidis perked Greece up again with a decent snap-shot held head-high by Fabien Barthez.

Narrow escape

A minute later Greece believed they had taken the lead when Karagounis' inswinging free-kick was met at the far post by Konstantinos Katsouranis but Barthez was adjudged to have intervened before the whole of the ball had crossed the line.

Greece on top

Aside from a Thierry Henry header that flew just over after good work from Zidane and Bixente Lizarazu, France were struggling to find a rhythm. Greece, prompted by captain Theo Zagorakis and inspired by Fyssas' left-wing incursions, were taking full advantage, Katsouranis and Fyssas both calling Barthez into action, the latter spectacularly so as the French goalkeeper tipped over a long-range volley.

French urgency

The Greeks departed for the interval with their fans jumping for joy, knowing they were in with a real chance of springing the biggest surprise of the championships; France by contrast left to a resounding chorus of disapproval from their fans. But from the restart there was more urgency about them, Henry shooting just wide in the opening minutes and Zagorakis being booked for a rash tackle on Robert Pires.

Crucial Kapsis

Their best moments thus far came in the 57th minute. The veteran Bixente Lizarazu, winning his 98th cap for France, stormed through the inside-left channel and was only stopped by a brave challenge from Mihalis Kapsis, who moments later headed out from under his own crossbar under pressure from David Trezeguet following an Henry cross.

Unstoppable header

But then France's world fell apart. Zagorakis, haring down Greece's right flank, cleverly flicked the ball beyond Lizarazu and sent over a measured cross for Charisteas. His header, from near the penalty spot, was textbook precision and Barthez had no chance as the ball flashed past him. French coach Jacques Santini promptly threw forwards Louis Saha and Sylvain Wiltord into the fray, at the expense of Dacourt and Trezeguet.

French frustration

Saha caused a flutter in Greek hearts as he skipped past Kapsis but his shot was smothered by Antonios Nikopolidis. Henry, at last inspired, then embarked on the kind of slaloming run that is his trademark but to no avail as the final shot was a weak one, and then he headed wide from a better opening, summing up a frustrating night for the champions. The Greek party, though, was just beginning.

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

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Greece sensationally knocked out defending champions France with an incredible win in their Euro 2004 quarter-final.

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

A powerful second-half header from Angelos Charisteas stunned France, who looked out of sorts and uninspired.

Greece were lively and keen to work hard, and outplayed France in an uneventful first half.

France came out with more verve in the second period and threatened with a host of chances, notably a late Thierry Henry header, but Greece held firm.

Greece began the Lisbon encounter full of endeavour and showed early signs of their intention with a dangerous cross from Charisteas on five minutes.

Shortly after, Demis Nikolaidis fired a fierce shot at keeper Fabien Barthez as Greece began to build some authority from midfield.

France were struggling to establish any rhythm and it was Greece who went close again on 15 minutes when Costas Katsouranis' stabbed shot from a Giorgos Karagounis free-kick hit the left post and was smothered right on the line by Barthez.

France's first meaningful effort fell to Henry after 24 minutes when the Arsenal striker unleashed a powerful header just wide.

Greece's industry paid off again when Katsouranis had another good chance, before left-back Takis Fyssas attempted an audacious lob from wide on the left which Barthez stretched to tip over the bar.

Henry launched France' s only other attack of note just before the interval but after a surging run his tame shot was pouched by keeper Antonis Nikopolidis.

Early in the second half, Henry's goal-bound volley was deflected wide by Traianos Dellas as France came out with a spring in their step missing from the first period.

As the half developed, France became more threatening and Greece were lucky to survive a spell that saw a dangerous run from Bixente Lizarazu and near misses from William Gallas and Henry.

But France were caught napping, and Theodoros Zagorakis' elusive run down the right gave him space to cross for Charisteas, who powered his header home.

It was an unstoppable header which set up one of the most amazing results in European Championship history.

France coach Jacques Santini was immediately forced to make changes and brought on Sylvain Wiltord and Louis Saha for Olivier Dacourt and David Trezeguet.

Saha and Henry both attempted weak shots as the game entered the final quarter, before Henry missed France's best chance with a header narrowly wide with three minutes left.

The Greek fairytale will roll on with a semi-final showdown against the winners of the quarter-final between Denmark and the Czech Republic.

France: Barthez, Gallas, Thuram, Silvestre, Lizarazu, Zidane, Makelele, Dacourt (Wiltord 72), Pires (Rothen 79), Henry, Trezeguet (Saha 72).

Subs Not Used: Coupet, Landreau, Boumsong, Vieira, Desailly, Pedretti, Sagnol, Marlet, Govou.

Booked: Zidane, Saha.

Greece: Nikopolidis, Seitaridis, Kapsis, Dellas, Fissas, Zagorakis, Basinas (Tsiartas 85), Karagounis, Nikolaidis (Lakis 61), Katsouranis, Charisteas.

Subs Not Used: Chalkias, Katergiannakis, Venetidis, Dabizas, Giannakopoulos, Kafes, Georgiadis, Goumas, Papadopoulos.

Booked: Karagounis, Zagorakis.

Attendance: 45,390.

Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden).

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OFFICIAL STATS BY UEFA

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

Category France Greece

Total shots 11 5

Shots on target 4 5

Possession 55% 45%

Corners won 3 3

Fouls committed 23 14

Offsides 1 1

Bookings 2 2

Sent Off 0 0

</pre>

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Holders humbled by giant Greeks

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

The giants continued to fall by the wayside tonight, the defending champions France going the way of fellow former winners Italy, Germany and Spain, not to mention England, as Greece pulled off the greatest result in their history.

Greek glee

Along with everyone else at the Estádio José Alvalade, the 5,000-strong contingent of Greek fans, many of whom had travelled out just for this match more in hope than expectation, could barely believe what they had witnessed when referee Anders Frisk blew the final whistle.

Discipline and organisation

As it was when they defeated Portugal in the opening match of the tournament, it was a triumph of discipline and organisation, the architect Otto Rehhagel, Greece's German coach who is fast assuming deific proportions in his adopted homeland. The party in Athens and every other Greek city might last almost until the Olympic Games begin there later in the summer.

Nothing to fear

It was a goal by SV Werder Bremen striker Angelos Charisteas that settled a game that had been Greece's for the taking long before his 65th-minute header from captain Theodoros Zagorakis' cross. Now Greece can look forward to a semi-final meeting with the Czech Republic or Denmark, knowing they have no reason to fear anyone.

Charisteas celebrations

Charisteas, the Carlsberg Man of the Match, said: "We worked very hard against a great opponent. We showed that our previous successes were no flukes - it's the fruit of hard work and commitment. We have a very good squad and we have been showing that from the start, from the qualifying phase. At this stage now, everything is possible. It's a great moment for Greek football. All Greeks should celebrate with us and should be proud of their national team."

'Player passion'

Rehhagel himself said: "This is very big news all around the world - in Rio de Janeiro, New York, Tokyo - so it is a great opportunity for Greek football. I would like to congratulate all my players because they played with passion. There were times when France moved the ball around better, but we were better and won the game. How you play depends on your opponents, and we just didn't let them play.

'Team spirit'

"Our tactics were successful. We are definitely going to enjoy ourselves today, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and we will start preparing for the next game. [Over] the last three years I have tried to instil team spirit among my players. They were all very good players to begin with, but I have tried to tell them that it is the team that counts.

Respect for rules

"The Greek players are very good individually but they had to realise that rules exist and have to be respected. When this works, they all understand that they have their part to play. I told the Greek people to come to Lisbon to see us and I am glad they were not disappointed."

'Technical faults'

France coach Jacques Santini said: "In the first half the Greek team maybe should have and could have scored, because they created some good chances. In the second half the situation was reversed. What we lacked is that we had too many technical faults and maybe we lacked lucidity at the end of the match because we wanted to score at any cost.

'Great disappointment'

"Against a regrouped defence our performance was not the best. It is a great disappointment because the adventure is finishing when we could have hoped like all the other quarter-finalists to go to the end of this [uEFA] European Championship."

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

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Greeks keep dream alive

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

The upsets continued apace at UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ last night with Greece sensationally knocking out holders France in the quarter-finals. The result sparked disbelief in today's newspapers in both countries.

France 0-1 Greece

OK, so France didn't get knocked out in the first round, but is the pain of defeat any less? This quarter-final tie against Greece confirmed, amplified and distilled, in 90 minutes, all the reasons why this French team has lost, over the course of this tournament, the immense credit with which they entered it. Not bad against England, inconsistent against Croatia, and worrying against Switzerland, France reached a new level on Friday, which most people did not think them capable of following their post-2002 [FIFA World Cup] renaissance. (L'Equipe)

Jacques Santini's men had provided a pragmatic response to any criticism of their play, saying that they had finished top of their group despite any problems. That position allowed them to tackle, on Friday evening, the least experienced of the quarter-finalists. But against such an opponent - who, admittedly, do have qualities of their own - Les Bleus should have made their class tell. (Le Monde)

It's not a joke, it's not virtual reality: Greece have knocked out European champions France. What joy, what pride they have filled us with! It's true, Greece won 1-0 thanks to an Angelos Charisteas goal in the 65th minute which came after a stunning move by Theodoros Zagorakis. The Czech Republic or Denmark now stand between us and the final. (Sportime)

Greece continued their triumphant run. Our team knocked out France, bringing people on to the streets again to celebrate. Now our team is looking at a place in the final. History can no longer wait. Greece are among the best four sides in Europe and the dream goes on. (Ta Nea)

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

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Otto Rehhagel: «I feel proud»

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

«I feel proud because people all over the world are going to hear of Greece having won and qualified. In Rio, in Tokyo, in New York, everybody will know that Greece are one of the four teams to play for the semi-finals. I feel very happy that we made all Greeks proud, especially the Greek fans who came to the stadium to watch the match and supported the team, contributing to our qualifying. This success is the result of the very well organized defence line and the players΄ discipline. Greece have adjusted to German mentality -in and out of the pitch- thus, we have the right to celebrate today. I don΄t want to start thinking about the semi-finals match yet. We need to get our feet back on the ground -because right now we are «flying» high on emotion- to get some rest and start preparing for the next match.»

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Charisteas: «Unprecedented joy»

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

Angelos Charisteas has been voted MVP of the France vs Greece quarter-finals match. Upon his receiving the award -in the area where the press conference was held - he made the following statement:

«I feel proud for this award and for Greece having qualified into Europe΄s «4». We put on a very good play today and we qualified deservedly against holders France. I was very happy with Werder΄s (Bremen) success, but what I feel now is unprecedented joy. I and my team-mates were representing Greece, Greek people and there are no words to describe how we feel about this new success.»

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Players΄ statements right after qualification

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

Right after the end of the quarter-finals match against France, the players of the National Team, the ones who brought Greece into Europe΄s «4», underlined the joy they feel for the unique success of the team and thanked Greek fans for their soul-stirring presence at «Jose Alvalade» stadium:

Basinas: «We are focusing on the next match. We worked with 100% of our potential and we played impeccably. What we say to our fans now is that they should enjoy this great success.»

Nikopolidis: «We are very happy. Today we gave a good fight.We deserved to win. We managed to keep France΄s «passages» closed. In order for us to play in the final we need to win the next match.»

Karagounis: «When you have beaten a team which have won World Cup and European Championship there is nothing left to say. Our victory was a fair one, we created opportunities and got the result we were after. Fans support was overwhelming.»

Fyssas: «I feel terribly happy to have this unbelievable experience with the National Team. We play for our country. We managed to put on a good show, there were moments that we were much better than France. We came off with flying colours, all football fans are going to come and see us play in the next match.»

Katsouranis: «I feel very happy, fans were fantastic. We gave a good performance today. We have made it, though nobody expected us to. We scored on the right moment and we won the game. The match against France is no comparison to the one against Spain, (today) we were not under pressure. We operated in a mature and cool-headed way and we deserved to win. Since we have reached this point, why not win the Cup too!»

Zagorakis: «We really needed what happened today, as it was the best for Greek football and all Greeks. We haven΄t come to realize what΄s happened yet. We are happy that there is this joyous feeling all over Greece.»

Nikolaidis: «The feeling is unbelievable. I was very stressed during the last minutes sitting on the bench. We played better than France. All my team-mates were perfect in the pitch. I would rather us to take on Denmark next, but it΄s true that facing the best forces us to improve our play. It makes us do our best.»

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Here are some photos from the match.

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Jimka i live in London and i know how the Turks feel about us. And if you want to take the (brothers), under any other sence still, we can be more further than the truth. We are coming off topic though. We can speak this somewhere else and exchange our views.

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I have been thinking that a team like Czech republic might be more suitable for us to face in the semi-final. Up until now, we have proved that we perform better when playing against teams of superior quality. The Czechs will try to take control of the game and we'll have the chance to utilize our counter-attacking tactics and hope to keep the solidity of our defensive line. No-one can question the fact that the Czechs have more talent in their team that us but then again so did Portugal, Spain and France! In adittion, facing the Czechs will exclude the possibility of considering ourselves in any way the favorite. I think it is very important to approach the game with the right mentality and self-knowledge. The Czechs are better than us so we'll try to exploit their weaknesses to the greatest degree while adjusting our playing style to our strong points.

The Danes on the other hand are a lot different than the Czechs. They are no so talented but they have inside them the Scandinavian spirit which means that they'll never give up or in any way make it easy for us. They are, like ourselves, very solid at the back while they have some really quick players in the midfield (Rommedahl) and overall they are very experienced at competing in such tournaments. They won't open up which means that we won't get the chance to catch them by surprise.

And to be honest, i'd much rather lose to the Czechs who are one of the most talented teams and have played briliantly so far. I know many people who will be throwing their hats if Denmark is our opponent. We did the same thing against Russia when everyone was saying how they were playing in the Casinos and swimming in the beaches of Faro and that they would be such an easy opponent for us. Some might get carried away and think that we are the favorite against Denmark. This won't be the case against the Czechs though.

One other thing that could prove to be important is that we will have 2 more days to rest and make our plans for the semi-final than our opponent.

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Football

Greek passion play derails French busted flush

[26 Jun 2004]

LISBON (AFP)

After 65 minutes of action which barely rose above the mediocre a little flash of skill and a classic header unlocked the trapdoor - and sent the holders crashing through as Angelos Charisteas soared to propel Greece to victory over France here.

As Charisteas turned away in triumph to acknowledge the acclaim of 10,000 Greek fans it was an image of two French players which lingered in the memory as striker David Trezeguet, eyebrows raised, shrugged his shoulders in exasperation towards Zinedine Zidane.

Zidane, a Gallic hero against England in his country's opening match, merely stared back uncomprehendingly as Greece shut up shop, as is their wont after scoring.

Thereafter, they moved on inexorably to wrap up one of the biggest upsets in the 44-year history of the competition.

In truth it was no more than the Greeks, nor Jacques Santini's French, deserved; the regal Bleus of the past seven years looked a humiliated and busted flush.

France winger Robert Pires was unable to pinpoint his team's failings in this tournament.

"I don't know what went wrong, there are no words to explain it," he said.

For the Greeks, led by veteran German coach Otto Rehhagel, their strategy has been all about making a silk purse out of the proverbial sow's ear with resources in short supply.

Yet here are the Greeks, bearing gifts to nobody, through to the semi-finals while France, who scaled the heights four years ago, return home in disgrace, their riches of the past six years having disintegrated to rags.

Despite topping their first-round group following the somewhat fortuitous victory over England thanks to two late deadball strikes from Zidane, the French have clearly been playing well within themselves.

Santini, whose decision to leave for Tottenham after the tournament now appears the wisest of choices, has persisted with the majority of the 1998-2000 generation which thrilled planet football but which now has more than had its day.

"It's the end of an era," said Pires. "Now we have to think of other things, mainly the 2006 World Cup which is coming up on the horizon."

One French flop - admittedly under a different coach in the shape of the unlamented Roger Lemerre at the 2002 World Cup - may be an aberration or a fluke.

But a second one is barely admissible, given the still potent blend of talent coupled with experience which the French possess.

For a country which prides itself on its culinary heritage, any gourmet would have sent the mangled recipe which Zidane and company offered up on Friday straight back to the maitre d'.

As the French fans struggled to take it in, the crazed Greeks deliriously cheered their men to the rafters as the whole squad came to salute their followers at the end, while the French fell variously to their knees or simply prostrate.

The cheers all around the ground were of Hellas, Hellas - Greece, Greece.

For the ageing French it was more a case of alas, alas - we knew them well.

They need a major injection of new talent in the shape of defender Philippe Mexes, midfielder Jerome Rothen and striker Djibril Cisse.

But laurels are not for resting on against teams with the passion of Greece and this French team has had its day.

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I dont think we are a surprise anymore after all this games. I dont mind if the others still think so. We are outsiders compare with the rest of the teams though. And i believe we can make it to the Final! Even win the Cup.

Why not, i believe Greece deserve it.

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Giannakopoulos living a dream

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

Stylianos Giannakopoulos said today that Greece's quarter-final defeat of France had left the players "dreaming of winning" UEFA EURO 2004â„¢.

Rank outsiders

Greece arrived in Portugal as rank outsiders, having never won a game in a final tournament. However, they progressed from Group A at the expense of Spain before putting paid to France's hopes with a 1-0 victory at the Estádio José Alvalade on Friday. Angelos Charisteas's 65th-minute header means Greece will play the winners of tonight's final quarter-final between the Czech Republic and Denmark in the last four.

Calf injury

"We don't have a preference but we would like to remain as outsiders and play the Czechs so that the pressure is on our opponents," said Giannakopoulos, who sat out the quarter-final because of a calf injury. "Every game is tough but at this stage our dream has come true. So now we are dreaming of the final and lifting the cup and we don't care who we play next."

Braga base

The Bolton Wanderers FC midfield player trained today and hopes to be fit for Thursday's semi-final at the Estádio do Dragão. "I'm getting there and I hope I will ready," Giannakopoulos said. The squad left Vila do Conde at noon today and will set up camp in the historic town of Braga, located 55km from Porto.

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

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Mr. Rehhagel to watch Czech Rep. vs Denmark

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

Head Coach, Otto Rehhagel, is going to watch the quarter-finals match,Czech Republic vs Denmark -from which the opponent of Greece will be produced- along with his associate, Ioannis Topalidis, tomorrow, Sunday 27/06/04.The match is going to take place at «Dragao» stadium (Porto), at 19:45 (local time)

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The Hellenic Football Federation΄s announcement

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

The Hellenic Football Federation feels the need to thank all Greeks who supported the National Team in their effort to qualify for Euro 2004 semi-finals. Supporters of Greece team everywhere in the world have their share in this historic and of the utmost importance success of the team, who are one of the four best teams in Europe since yesterday. H.F.F. expresses the warmest thanks especially to Greeks who arrived in Portugal from every corner of Europe, as well as, New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

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Training at a slow pace

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The National Team΄s training session took place at «Nacional» stadium at a slow pace today. All internationals took part in it. Stelios Giannakopoulos went into full training and then he had a special training program. The medical team believes that the international player will be at Mr. Rehhagel΄s disposal for the semi-finals match on Thursday.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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Greece spring a surprise, the Dutch show their courage and the Czechs march on

Czech forward Milan Baros ® looks at his kick going in the Danish goal despite Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen (L), 27 June 2004 at Dragao stadium in Porto, during the quarter final Euro 2004 football match between Czech Republic and Denmark at the European Nations championship in Portugal.

(AFP PHOTO) Joe KLAMAR

(FIFA.com) 28 Jun 2004

The last four sides at UEFA EURO 2004 are now known, and with Portugal due to play Holland and the Czech Republic set to tackle Greece, the semi-final line-up is as unprecedented as it was unexpected. The Greeks got the weekend off to a sensational start by knocking out lacklustre holders France in what was undoubtedly the biggest shock of the tournament. Then, on Saturday night, the Dutch needed a penalty shoot-out to overcome a brave Swedish side. Finally, on Sunday, the Czech Republic lived up to their growing reputation by putting three goals past an otherwise excellent Denmark team. We cast a look back on the three quarter-finals that took place over the weekend.

France went into Friday's match knowing that they had not really got into their stride so far. Indeed, their performances had attracted stinging criticism back home, so much so that the players had to angrily remind people that they had in fact topped Group B without losing a match. Nonetheless, the plan was to use the quarter-final against Greece to show those critics they were still a team of champions.

The French failed in their redemption mission. Just as in their group games, the holders proved incapable of raising the tempo until after they had fallen behind. Early on, it was the Greeks who created all the chances and Konstantinos Katsouranis came within a whisker of turning a Georgios Karagounis free-kick into the French net, only to see Fabien Barthez make a great save on his line. All Les Bleus could muster in return was a flowing move down the left wing which culminated in a Thierry Henry header that flew wide.

The French improved in the second period and managed to carve out a few openings for Bixente Lizarazu, Henry and David Trezeguet, but in general they were a pale imitation of the team that lifted the trophy four years ago. And fifteen minutes from time, the underdogs tore up the script. Theodoros Zagorakis raided down the right and delivered an inch-perfect cross for Angelos Charisteas, who soared mightily to power his header into the top corner well beyond Barthez. The French tried to rally, but could find no way back.

France must now undertake some serious self-examination. The manner of their exit here was only marginally less painful than the debacle of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japanâ„¢. The most pressing task is to find a new manager. Then, the second item on the Gallic agenda must surely be to introduce some new blood into the squad. This tournament made it embarrassingly clear that the glory days of 1998 are long gone. Greece, by contrast, fully deserved the euphoric celebrations with which they greeted the final whistle. France may have contributed to their own downfall, but there can be no denying the quality of their opponent's defensive play.

Giants cut down to size

France's elimination merely accentuated a trend that had already become quite apparent at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The so-called giants of the continent are not so gigantic after all. For the first time in the history of the European Championship, the last quartet does not feature any of the countries which play host to the continent's five biggest domestic leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).

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Greeks get Henriksen hints

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

Danish international René Henriksen believes Greece are capable of making it to the UEFA EURO 2004™ final if they show no fear when they take on the Czech Republic in Thursday's semi-final at Porto's Estádio do Dragão.

Ever-present

Denmark were eliminated after losing 3-0 against the Czechs in the quarter-finals, but the Panathinaikos FC centre-back, who was ever-present for Denmark throughout their campaign, told Greek newspaper Ta Nea that the tournament's high-fliers are beatable.

Winning formula

"The Czechs are definitely the favourites as they have won all four of their matches and they play good and fast football," the 34-year-old said. "They are like a finetuned engine and have exceptional players in attack and skilful players in midfield.

No fear

"However, I believe that if Greece show no fear and play tight in defence they can go through," he added. "The Czechs may have won all of their matches but Greece beat hosts Portugal and knocked out France, who were the tournament favourites."

Czech goal machine

The Czechs have scored an impressive ten goals in their games against Latvia, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, and Henriksen said it is essential that the Greeks do not lose concentration at any moment of the match.

Mistakes costly

"At no stage of the game should the Greeks relax," he warned. "The Czechs have displayed remarkable endurance and are in top form. The slightest mistake could prove costly because they have pace and will take advantage of any error an opponent makes.

Attacking excellence

"[Milan] Baroš and [Jan] Koller work together very well in attack and special care must be taken to stop [Pavel] Nedved who is very fast and has strong legs. [Tomáš] Rosický is equally formidable," he added.

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

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Giannakopoulos warns Czechs

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Greece midfield player Stylianos Giannakopoulos has warned the Czech Republic that they must live up to their favourites' tag when the two sides meet in Thursday's semi-final at the Estádio do Dragão.

'No favourites'

The Bolton Wanderers FC player said reputations built on past performances would count for nothing with a place in the final at stake. "There are no favourites in these sort of games, you prove what you are worth on the pitch," he said. "The Czechs are a good team and have good players like we have. Whichever team is better and luckier will get to the final."

Riding high

Greece are riding high after eliminating holders France in the quarter-finals and Giannakopoulos hopes the run will continue all way to Sunday's final in Lisbon. "Our goal is to continue with the same rhythm," he said. "We have done very well so far. We will do our utmost to make it to the final."

Back from injury

The 29-year-old missed the match against France because of a nagging calf injury but he is expected to be available on Thursday, together with striker Zisis Vryzas who returns from suspension. "Our coach will have more options for this match," Giannakopoulos added. "All the remaining teams are tired. It's been a full year for all the players, but this should not be an obstacle in Thursday's match."

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Ujfaluši ignores final warning

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Czech Republic defender Tomáš Ujfaluši has vowed not to shirk from a tackle in Thursday's semi-final against Greece, despite knowing that another booking could keep him out of the final. "It's impossible to pull out of a tackle," the centre-back said.

Czech booked

Ujfaluši, Marek Jankulovski, and Pavel Nedved were all booked in the Czech Republic's quarter-final victory over Denmark and will be suspended from a possible final appearance should they pick up another yellow card against Greece. None, however, are willing to alter the aggressive style of play that has brought such success.

Jankulovski focused

"I missed the game against the Dutch in qualifying and I know how unpleasant it is, but I'm not thinking about it at all," Jankulovski said. "I only want to win the semi-final, nothing else is important right now."

Nedved determined

Nedved is no stranger to disappointment after missing the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League final through suspension, but despite that unpleasant memory the Juventus FC midfield player has no intention of curbing his combative instincts. "I don't want to miss another final because of yellow cards," the Czech captain said. "However I will not change my style of play. I cannot swerve from the fight."

Final warning

Talk of the final might seem to play into the hands of Greece who have revelled in the underdog role en route to the last four, but assistant coach Miroslav Beránek has been careful to stamp out any complacency in the Czech squad.

'No euphoria'

"We have not won anything yet. There is no place for euphoria in our camp," said Beránek, who led the Czech Republic to victory in the 2002 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The message is likely to have got through: seven players from that squad are with the Czech Republic in Portugal now.

Party time

A carnival atmosphere pervaded the Czech base today at Sintra where the city was celebrating its 850th anniversary. Even local policemen were handing out wine, but the party ended when the Czech training session began behind closed doors. Coach Karel Brückner worked on set-pieces again but he was forced to reduce the session by an hour because of the hot weather.

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Grygera bounces back

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Defender Zdenek Grygera is keen to make up for lost time after working his way back into coach Karel Brückner's favour ahead of the Czech Republic's semi-final against Greece.

Return to favour

The AFC Ajax right-back bore the brunt of criticism for his side's poor start against the Netherlands ten days ago when he was substituted after only 25 minutes. But he returned to form as a substitute in the quarter-final win against Denmark and is expected to keep his place because the man he replaced that day, Martin Jiránek, has not recovered from a thigh injury.

'Made mistakes'

The 24-year-old stayed positive despite the setback and now hopes to make the most of his chance. "I didn't think the championship was over for me, although it was very unpleasant to be out of the lineup," Grygera said. "I was angry at first, but the coach has the right to say what he thinks and I must admit I made mistakes."

Supporting role

The fact that the Czech Republic went on to win made his own misfortune easier to stomach, but because Grygera had been a regular during qualifying, life on the substitutes' bench was an even harder adjustment to make.

'Worse things'

Grygera, however, rose to the challenge, impressing with his attitude. "It was not doomsday for me," he said. "There are worse things in life - injury for instance." Grygera knows what he is talking about, after suffering a back problem last season then almost missing UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ for health reasons.

'Prayed to survive'

"I didn't feel I was snubbed at all," he added. "I was ready to help even if it was only for a couple of minutes." After sitting out the Germany game, his chance came against Denmark when Jiránek limped off just before half-time. "It was not easy as I came on without warming up," Grygera said. "I prayed to survive the remaining moments before the break, but the second half passed without any problems."

Back in favour

With his confidence restored, Grygera finds himself back in favour at just the right time. "It's a little sad to be back only because of injury to my friend, but that's life," Grygera said. "I am ready to do my best again."

Fond memories

Grygera even has fond memories of playing Greece. "We played against them at the [uEFA] European Under-21 Championship in 2002," he said. "I scored a penalty and we reached the final after a 1-1 draw." With the sun shining on the defender again, might that be a lucky omen?

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Preparing for the semi-finals match

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The preparation of the National Team for the semi-finals match against Czech Republic -which is to take place on Thursday at «Dragao» stadium- has started at the Sports Center of the hotel where the internationals are staying at, at Falpera. Georgios Karagounis went into a special training program, however, there is no reason for concern as to his being on call for the match. Tomorrow, the internationals are going to have their training session at 18:00 (local time) and the session will be of no access for the Media.

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«Czech Republic are a special team»

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After the end of today΄s training, Head National Coach, Otto Rehhagel, made the following statement:

«We watched the Czech Republic match. They are a special team. It΄s a country with tradition in football. They are the favourites for this match and we will have to make a performance as good as we did with France. Giannakopoulos went into full training, we don΄t have any problems. The players are tired, but everything will work out fine. The proposal that was made to me to become a naturalized Greek subject is an honour. Greeks are an emotional people. We will discuss it when we go back to Greece.»

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«We΄ll give it everything we΄got»

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After the conclusion of yesterday΄s (28/06/04) training session, Angelos Charisteas, Angelos Bassinas, Demis Nikolaidis, Georgios Karagounis, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Zissis Vryzas, Antonis Nikopolidis and Michail Kapsis made statements, referring to Czech Republic dynamics and the support they expect from the Greek fans in the semi-finals match on Thursday.

Charisteas: «We watched Czech Republic play. The result (3-0) is not representative of their performance in this match. Czechs are a very strong team and they play as a team. The players are more experienced than us, but they are not invincible.»

Basinas: «All the teams that have reached this point are very strong. Czechs are the favourites, but we have nothing to fear, we will give it everything we΄ve got and we΄ll see. We expect the Greek fans to come, support us and be by our side.»

Nikolaidis: «Czech Republic are the best team of this tournament and the odds-on in this match. That΄s good for us. I hope the last match of my career will be the final, but it might also be the match against Czech Republic. Who knows.»

Karagounis: «Based on the results up to now, Czech Republic are the strongest team. The match between our teams is a semi-finals one and luck might be on either side. They are the favourites, but we hope that in the end we will be smiling and we are going to give it everything we΄ve got in order to make it. Fans support is fantastic. With this kind of support it΄s not easy to lose.»

Giannakopoulos: «Our aim is to keep up the same way, we have done very well up to now. We mean to do our best and reach the final. Our coach will certainly have more alternatives for this match. All the teams that have gone through are tired at this point, the players had a year full of action. Fatigue should not keep us from doing our best on Thursday. There are no favourites in this kind of matches, you have to show your potential in the pitch. Czechs are a good team and they have good individual players, just as we do. The best -and luckiest- team will go through into the final.»

Vryzas: «At this point, all the teams that have gone through have proved they know how to win. Czech Republic have played well throughout the tournament. It΄s going to be a very difficult match, but we will fight for it as we have done in all matches. Czechs are the absolute favourite. They have participated in European Championships and World Cups. The underdogs role suits us. I was upset for not being able to play against France, but my team-mates made the best present to me, that is to be at my coach΄s disposal for the semi-final.»

Nikopoldis: «We all watched how the Czech Republic played Denmark. The Scandinavians suffered a «black-out» after Koller ΄s goal. The Czechs are a good and well organized team and they are the favourites for the semi-final. Our rivals play in top European Leagues, but they will have to prove their superiority in the pitch. There are individual players that can carry the team through. If they find space they can be very dangerous.»

Kapsis: «We΄ve got three days to work. We are tired and we have to regain our strength so that we can be ready on Thursday. We are going to work on our weaknesses. We will have to cope with a lot of difficulty in the semi-final, since Czech Republic are a strong team, they are experienced and with a lot of good qualities in the pitch.»

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Training session and press conference

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Tomorrow, Wednesday 30/06/04, at 18:00 (local time), the internationals will have their last training session -before EURO 2004 semi-finals match against Czech Republic- at «Dragao» stadium. One hour before the session (17:00) Mr. Rehhagel will hold a press conference.

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Rehhagel: «We are glad to be playing in the semi-final»

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Mr. Otto Rehhagel held a press conference for Greek and foreign Media today in view of tomorrow΄s semi-final against the Czech Republic. He started with a small statement:

«We are glad to be playing in tomorrow΄s match. The team have made a great performance up to this point. I hope we can get some rest in order for us to come up to our strength and make a good rival for the Czech Republic.»

Following the statement, journalists posed questions:

What΄s going to be your tactics against Baros and Koller?

«I never reveal my tactics in advance. This never happens in sports.»

You beat Portugal and drove Spain and France out. Isn΄t it too good to be true? Did you imagine that you would go this far?

«The important thing is for the players to feel refreshed, to be able to get over fatigue -both physical and mental-, so that we can be ready for the match against Czech Republic.»

Are all the players on call?

«Everyone is on call, the whole roster is available for us to choose from.»

The rest of the teams that play in the semi-finals are aiming at winning the trophy. Is this Greece΄s aim too?

«We have to focus on tomorrow΄s match. We only think about our next match, the one with Czech Republic.»

Are you familiar with AEK FC΄s financial problems? Do they effect the National Team?

«You have asked me about this before, at the beginning of the tournament. I deal with the National Team΄s issues, since they are the only ones that I can resolve.»

What is your opinion of Karel Bruckner as a coach and how are you going to stand against him?

«I regard him as a very good coach, just as I do with all the coaches here. I would like to seize the opportunity and say something about Mr. Scolari, who had told me: «if you face any problems, please give me a call.» I thank him for this gesture of his.»

It seems that Greece΄s «specialty» is «throwing» great teams out of the tournament. Do you consider Greece the favourites in tomorrow΄s match?

«It is very important that we made fans happy and filled them with enthusiasm. That΄s football. Tomorrow we will fight for it and we΄ll see what it comes to.»

You are very popular in Greece. You΄ve been offered to become a naturalized Greek subject. What do you think of that?

«We won some matches, that΄s all. I am happy the team play in the semi-final, we are happy for Greek football and young people.»

Czech Republic asked to play in red because they think it΄s good luck. Which is going to be your colour?

«The important thing is how we do in the pitch, not colours.»

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Preparation concluded

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The National Team΄s preparation for tomorrow΄s EURO 2004 semi-finals match between Greece and the Czech Republic came to conclusion at the «Dragao» stadium today. The session ended uneventfully and all the internationals are available for the match.

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Greece - Chech Rep. 0 - 0, 1 - 0 (Silver goal)

16' E.T. Dellas

Dellas delight stuns Czechs

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Greece will play Portugal in the final of UEFA EURO 2004â„¢ after Traianos Dellas' header in added time at the end of the first half of silver goal extra time knocked out the Czech Republic.

Dellas decisive

The goal that settled a dramatic and entertaining second semi-final in Porto eventually arrived in the 106th minute as Vassilios Tsiartis swung over a corner, and Dellas nipped in to steer in a header at the near post and send the Greeks and their fans into ecstasy, and a totally unexpected final appearance.

One change each

The Czech Republic made one change from the side that defeated Denmark in the quarter-finals, Zdenek Grygera coming in at right-back to replace Martin Jiránek, who was ruled out by a hamstring injury. Following the Greeks' shock win against holders France, coach Otto Rehhagel brought back Zisis Vryzas up front after suspension in place of Themistoklis Nikolaidis.

Rosický denied

Backed by a noisy contingent of fans, Greece were fortunate not to fall behind after only two minutes as Tomáš Rosický volleyed against crossbar from 20 metres with Greek goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis motionless. The vibrant Czechs maintained their early pressure, Nikopolidis beating away Marek Jankulovski's fierce drive for a corner moments later.

Cech called upon

Greece finally broke out, with Georgios Karagounis able to test Czech keeper Petr Cech with a long-range free-kick, and the underdogs slowly settled down after a nervous opening to the match. Giourkas Seitaridis was booked after 22 minutes for hauling down Milan Baroš as Greece tried to counter the Czechs' superior technique with industry and commitment, and chances were few and far between as the half-hour approached of a tight contest.

Greek opportunities

However, the next opportunity fell to Greece after 29 minutes as Vryzas burst powerfully down the left and Cech was forced to dive to palm his low cross away to safety. The livewire Karagounis then fired wide from 25 metres as Rehhagel's men enjoyed a promising spell of pressure.

Nikopolidis needed

Back came the Czechs and Nikopolidis had to dive at Pavel Nedved's feet to halt a mazy run. Two minutes later, Nikopolidis made a brilliant save to deny Jankulovski as the Greeks came under renewed threat. Nedved suffered a leg injury in the move, and the knock ultimately proved too serious for the Czech captain to continue. Vladimír Šmicer arrived in Nedved's place shortly before half-time, and the match remained goalless at the break.

Yellow cards

The substitute assumed a role on the left of midfield with Rosický taking over the playmaker's role for the Czechs, who had Tomáš Galásek booked after 48 minutes for a challenge on Angelos Charisteas in a tense, foul-ridden opening to the second half. Šmicer was then shown the yellow card six minutes later when he brought down Seitardis.

Czech chances

The first real action ended with Karel Poborský curling an effort wide from one free-kick, and Jan Koller's header from a Poborský corner hit Baroš and went wide as the Czechs put together a period of pressure which also saw Rosický miss the target from 20 metres.

Mounting tension

The stalemate persisted past the hour, and it looked increasingly like a single goal would settle the game. Vryzas almost did the trick when Greece attacked, but his header was straight at Cech from Karagounis' free-kick. At the other end, Poborský's audacious lob sailed just over the top as the pace picked up. Greek striker Charisteas was the next into the book on 70 minutes for tripping Tomáš Ujfaluši.

Near misses

Koller unmarked in front of goal in the clear and Baroš wriggled through the Greek defence only to curl his effort wide of the far post as the Czechs pressed for a late winner. But Greece, who saw Karagounis pick up an 87th-minute booking that would rule him out of the final, held on to force extra time.

Greece on top

Greece almost stole a 94th-minute lead when Cech blocked substitute Stelios Giannakopoulos' header. Baroš was then booked for fouling Panagiotis Fyssas, and Cech parried a Dellas header from point-blank range as the Greeks looked the fresher side, pushing forward constantly, and they were rewarded in dramatic fashion in added time at the end of the first half.

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OFFICIAL STATS BY UEFA

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

Category Greece Czech Republic

Total shots 9 16

Shots on target 5 5

Possession 48% 52%

Corners won 4 8

Fouls committed 15 24

Offsides 4 2

Bookings 3 3

Sent Off 0 0

</pre>

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Karagounis shrugs off ban

Greece midfielder Giorgos Karagounis has played down the disappointment of being suspended for the Euro 2004 final against Portugal on Sunday.

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The Inter Milan player picked up his second booking of the knockout stages in the quarter-final win over Holland.

"It is one of those things," said Karagounis, who scored the first goal as Greece beat Portugal in the group.

"Of course I would have liked to play but the most important thing is that Greece has reached the final."

He added: "We dedicate this victory to our supporters here and also at home.

"Whatever happens now it has been a great experience and we must not forget that."

Greece saw off the Dutch 1-0 thanks to a silver goal through Traianos Dellas at the end of the first half of extra-time.

Karagounis' booking was the only sour note for the Greeks - although not for Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos who will probably take his place.

The Inter man warned his team-mates not to take anything for granted, despite that opening day win over hosts Portugal.

"They have got better as it has gone on and their coach is Luiz Felipe Scolari who is experienced in situations like this," warned Karagounis. "It will be a different game."

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Greeks hails 'miracle'

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel described his side's 1-0 silver-goal victory over the Czech Republic in the second Euro 2004 semi-final as a "miracle".

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He said: "The fairytale continues, it's unbelievable what they did.

"It's a true miracle. The Czechs were technically better but the passion and the will was on our side.

"We had nothing to lose, we could risk everything. We could play for all or nothing. We worked hard for this for three years, step by step."

Rehhagel added: "The team has won tremendous confidence. We've made some fortunate decisions and they've worked out.

"We beat the Portugese in the first match and they managed to stay in the tournament and now it's the dream final against us - a chance for them to get revenge for the first match.

"We're the underdogs but we have nothing to lose.

"In football everything is possible, we don't have anything to lose.

"We're the winners of this tournament."

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Bruckner proud of Czechs

Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner refused to blame his players after their silver goal defeat in the Euro 2004 semi-finals by Greece on Thursday.

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"We are disappointed with the result but that's all," Bruckner said after they lost 1-0 in Porto.

"I have told the boys that I am proud of every one of them.

"Our captain Pavel Nedved has told them in the dressing room that this is the best international team he has ever played with."

Bruckner was keen to pay tribute to the Greeks following their 1-0 victory, which came when Dellas scored in the last minute of the first period of extra-time.

"I must congratulate our Greek opponents on their very clever tactical approach and hope it goes well for them in the final," he said.

"We played comparatively well in the second half but they were more effective than us."

Bruckner said the manner of Greece's goal came as a surprise.

"In three years as coach and 30 matches we have conceded a goal from a corner for the first time and in the very last seconds," he said.

"It proves that the last minute is always a dangerous time."

The Czechs received a blow before half-time when Nedved was forced off just before half-time with a knee problem.

When asked if he was seriously injured, Bruckner said: "We cannot say yet how serious it is."

Bruckner revealed that he had been planning to bring on substitute Marek Heinz just before Greece's winner, only for his plan to fall through.

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Greece at Euro 2004

PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

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

Total number of matches played so far 5

Games ending in a conclusive result at 90 mins 4

% of games ending in a conclusive result at 90 mins 80%

Total number of drawn matches at 90 mins 1

% of total number of drawn matches at 90 mins 20%

Number of games decided by the silver goal 1

% of knock out games decided by the silver goal 50%

Number of games decided by penalty shoot out 0

% of knock out gms decided by penalty shoot out 0

Total number of goals scored 6

Goals scored to match ratio 1.2

Total aggregate of goals scored and conceded 10

Total aggregate to match ratio 2

Total number of penalties awarded 1

Total number of penalties converted 1

Total number of penalties awarded to opposition 0

Total number of penalties conceded 0

Total number of own goals 0

Total number of red cards 0

Red cards to games ratio 0

Total number of yellow cards 14

Yellow cards to games ratio 2.8

</pre>

SQUAD STATS

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

No Player Apps Goals Red Yellow

1 Antonios Nikopolidis 5 0 0 0

2 Giourkas Seitaridis 5 0 0 2

3 Stylianos Venetidis 1+1 0 0 0

4 Nikolaos Dabizas 0 0 0 0

5 Traianos Dellas 5 1 0 1

6 Angelos Basinas 4 (1p) 0 0

7 Theodoros Zagorakis 5 0 0 2

8 Stylianos Giannakopoulos 2+1 0 0 1

9 Angelos Charisteas 5 2 0 1

10 Vassilios Tsiartas 0+4 0 0 0

11 Themistoklis Nikolaidis 1+3 0 0 0

12 Konstantinos Chalkias 0 0 0 0

13 Theofanis Katergianakis 0 0 0 0

14 Panagiotis Fyssas 4+1 0 0 0

15 Zisis Vryzas 4 1 0 2

16 Pantelis Kafes 0 0 0 0

17 Giorgios Georgiadis 0 0 0 0

18 Giannis Goumas 0 0 0 0

19 Mihalis Kapsis 5 0 0 0

20 Giorgios Karagounis 4 1 0 4

21 Konstantinos Katsouranis 4+1 0 0 1

22 Dimitrios Papadopoulos 1 0 0 0

23 Vassilios Lakis 0+2 0 0 0

</pre>

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I really can't wait for the final now. Greece are so good at neutralising the opposition, and have far better players than people are giving them credit for, even now.

Dellas is my player of the tournament, but no doubt UEFA will give it to someone like Figo (if it goes to a Portuguese player it should be Maniche) because it will be more media friendly.

Sorry Portugal, I do like you, but I have to support the Greeks from now on.

Bet your all gutted. icon_wink.gif

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Greece in the final of Euro. Not even "The Football Manager", CM or other could simulate this...

And thoroughly well deserved.

In football, everything is possible my friends!

It's a beautiful game!

ps. Where are all these wisecracks predicting in this trhead heavy losses of Greece? (Danish super-ignorant headresearcher included?)

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