- The Ethniki is BACK! -
|Netherlands||1 - 2||Greece|
A blast from the past from our National Team! A GREAT showing in Holland gave Greece a 1-2 victory over the Dutch in today’s final friendly before Tuesday’s qualifier against Gibraltar. Greece seemed much improved on all fronts and contained Holland’s threat throughout the match. Mitroglou and Gianniotas scored for Greece after Wijnaldum gave the Dutch an early lead. The win is a MAJOR confidence booster to our National Team as they prepare for World Cup Qualifying and forget about the tragic Euro 2016 Qualifying campaign.
Michael Skibbe displayed Greece in a 4-2-3-1 formation at the beginning of the game with Karnezis in goal, and Torosidis, Manolas, Papastathopoulos, and Tzavellas in front of him. Maniatis and Samaris played in the defensive midfield positions while Cholebas and Mantalos were on the wings. Fortounis had the organizing role behind the lone striker Mitroglou.
The game got off to a slow start for both teams and out of nowhere Holland took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. A poor pass from Papastathopoulos sent the hosts on the attack with the ball ending up at Janssen's feet on the right wing. The Dutch player dribbled passed Tzavellas and his cross beat both Papastathopoulos and Manolas, with Wijnaldum easily sending the ball into the back of the net. After 20 minutes of play, the Greek team looked more confident and began to control the possession. Fortounis sent the first warning in the 20th minute and at the half-hour mark, a fantastic cross from Torosidis found Mitroglou, who easily headed the ball past Zoet. Greece continued to look the better side after the equalizer and the teams went into the break level. The first half was arguably the best 45 minutes Greece had played in over 2 years.
In the second half Kapino, Stafylidis, K. Papadopoulos, and Bakasetas were subbed on for Karnezis, Cholebas, Manolas, and Torosidis. Despite an early opportunity for Holland, the second half began like the first at a slow pace. Ten minutes into the half, Fortounis was subbed off for Gianniotas due to injury, something that will worry Skibbe. The hosts then threatened with Janssen’s shot grazing the post in the 66th minute and 9 minutes later, the Greeks found themselves in front. Mantalos won the the ball after great pressure in the midfield and he sent Mitroglou through on goal. The Benfica player was denied by the goalkeeper, but Gianniotas put away the rebound to score his first goal for the National Team and give Greece the 1-2 lead. The hosts pressed on for a late equalizer with their frustration evident in their build-up. The final whistle came and Greece earned their first ever victory over Holland and their second consecutive victory (the first time since November 2013).
Today’s performance was without a doubt Greece’s strongest showing over the last two years. Not only did they defeat a respectable opponent away from home, the Greek team shutdown the Dutch, giving them little opportunities to score (mainly from clumsy defensive mistakes). Michael Skibbe seems to have well-prepared Greece over the last eight months for the upcoming World Cup Qualifying campaign.
This was Greece’s sixth and final friendly before Tuesday’s opening qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Greece will travel to play their “easiest” opponents in the group, Gibraltar.
*Greece's opponents Belgium and Gibraltar were defeated in today's friendlies against Spain (0-2) and Portugal (5-0) respectively.