Greece needs to get a result against Japan in its Group C match at the World Cup.
The Greeks looked outclassed in their 3-0 loss against Colombia but they did have some of the possession in the first half.
Fernando Santos’ team lacked quality finishing as well as some flair against the Colombians but it should fancy its chances against the Japanese.
Japan became more defensive after Keisuke Honda scored the first goal in its game against the Ivory Coast and then the Elephants came back and won 2-1.
Greece’s players look more built than Japan’s ones but there are other reasons for anyone to tip the Greeks to win this match.
For the Ethniki to obtain a win, Santos will need to make some changes to his squad. He has been reliant on veterans and now he needs to freshen up the team.
My proposal is instead of using the 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, Greece should line-up in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Panagiotis Kone would play closer to the opposition penalty box and Georgios Samaras could patrol the left flank.
Georgios Tzavellas should start as the left-back. Jose Cholevas struggled at Euro 2012 and was replaced by Tzavellas. At that time, the move worked and if Santos makes that change for the Japan game, it could work again.
Cholevas is weak defensively and leaves too many gaps for opposition right-wingers. Tzavellas has shown that he is better at international level and he could even take the free-kicks.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis should be brought into the starting line-up. I consider him to the Greek Sergio Busquets because of his tendency to pass sideways and backwards.
Tachtsidis has started to play more forward passes than the Spanish midfielder since moving from Catania to Torino in Italy’s Serie A and he could the type of player to help maintain Greece’s passing fluidity.
Ioannis Fetfatzidis aka “The Greek Messi” would be an ideal option to replace Dimitrios Salpingidis on the right-wing. He has the trickery and the pace to unsettle opposition defenders.
Salpingidis has been a talisman for the Greek national team but Fetfatzidis represents the present and future of Greek football.
Kone would be best utilised if he played closer to goal. He was Greece’s best player against Colombia and he was the Ethniki’s best offensive threat.
During his time at Serie A club Bologna, he has had a habit of scoring spectacular goals. Perhaps with better supply against the Japanese, he can replicate the magic with the Greeks.
Samaras should not start as a support striker and he should play on the left flank. He can patrol the left side of the pitch, he has great stamina, a great work ethic and fantastic ball control. His finishing leaves a lot of be desired though so he better off creating chances than finishing them off.
For all the changes and additions to the Greek team, the real key is to start Kostas Mitroglou in attack ahead of Theofanis Gekas. The veteran striker has never starred at a major tournament for Greece and he was the Ethniki’s weak link against Colombia.
Mitroglou was Greece’s hero against Romania in the World Cup play-offs, and even if he is not 100 per cent fit, he would surely present a greater threat to the Japanese defence than Gekas.
Greece has been reliant on experience and defensive tactics but Santos needs to bring in younger players to help implement offensive tactics.
If he makes these changes, Greece could have what it takes to beat Japan.