Analysis: How the Greeks performed against Egypt
AGONAsport’s Greg Gavalas analyzes how each Greek player performed in Tuesday’s international friendly against Egypt.
WATCH Greek Sports and much more from any device with LIVE GREEK TV from AGONAsport! Details and purchase here!
The Greek team came away 1-0 winners over World Cup bound Egypt in a very wet Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich, Switzerland. Greek coach Michael Skibbe made several changes to the tried and tested line-up in Athens a few days earlier, who went down 0-1 to Switzerland.
The changes paid off as Greece dominated Egypt for most of the game and should have had more than one goal to show for their display. The defense was solid with Skibbe playing two natural wing backs for a change, in Michalis Bakakis and Kostas Stafylidis, whilst the center combo of Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Giorgos Tzavellas stood firm for the most part.
In midfield, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos finally got the start on the right wing and Tasos Donis on the left, again, playing two natural wingers allowed Greece to go forward with more speed than usual and also saw the two wingers running into space, another issue with the Greek team in the past.
The central midfield featured Dimitris Pelkas of PAOK, who was a great inclusion offering much more pressing up the field and behind him were Panagiotis Tachtsidis and Alexandros Tziolis. One could say it was the slowest midfield combination in international football, however it was Tziolis who outshone Tachtsidis, the latter with many unforced errors. An ordinary Egypt team saw Tziolis have a comfortable night. He made some nice passes after realizing the long ball wasn’t working early in the game but did tire out towards the end.
Nikos Karelis did well up front and got the all-important goal in his return to the Ethniki after 16 months.
Below are the Greek players’ ratings against Egypt
Andreas Gianniotis (9): A great debut for the Atromitos keeper and he made an excellent save early in the game when it looked like Egypt would score. Looked confident in all parts of his game.
Kostas Stafylidis (8): A good game from Stafylidis. Egypt penetrated his side and the Stoke City left back pushed up well and was unlucky to have an incredible volley from outside the box ruled offside as it landed in the net.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos (8): Bossed the defense all game, did a lot of passing, and overall had a good game
Giorgos Tzavellas (8): Nearly scored off a corner, was on the same page as his partner in defence, and played well
Michalis Bakakis (9): Has taken his opportunity with both hands. Attacked the flank very well and did his job in defence. Was one of the better crosses of the ball for Greece and got the well earned assist to the only goal of the game.
Alexandros Tziolis (7): Tziolis is Tziolis and whilst a younger and faster option was hoped for by many, Tziolis did ok and did a fair amount of running and won headers which helped. There were the many back passes you get from him but there was good low passing as well. He did tire out towards the end, as usual, and the customary costly giveaway happened which put Greece under pressure. Skibbe must take notice of this before it costs the Ethniki a result.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis (3): Was the disappointment of the night with countless unforced errors that lead to many misplaced passes.
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (7): Started slowly as he normally does for Greece but once he settled in, his combination with Bakakis was clear to see. Had a poor night with his crosses but we saw the difference Lazaros can make in Greece’s attack.
Tasos Donis (7): Donis, as usual, gave the defence a hard time with his menacing runs but still lacked the final pass or cross.
Dimitris Pelkas (8): Plenty of running from Pelkas. His running and those of Donis & Lazaros changed the image of the team. Pelkas even dropped back to help the holding midfielders and was effective. Hopefully, he gets more time in future games.
Nikos Karelis (7): Another player who showed more running and pressing than what we are used to on the Ethniki. Got the vital goal, his 3rd with the national team. His touches can improve and was booked early for a silly tackle, but didn’t tire at all in the 90 minutes.
Tasos Bakasetas (7): Looks to be getting more settled on the international stage and had some good touches.
Vasilis Barkas (7): Looked good, was not really tested but didn’t look out of place at this level.
Giannis Gianniotas (5): Came on in the 64th min but didn’t see much of the ball.
Babis Lykogiannis (7): Another cameo for Lykogiannis who looked good. A low pass to Karelis could have been worked better by the forward. The Cagliari left-back deserves a start in future.
Dimitris Kourbelis (6): Only had 15 minutes but like the other new faces, showed much running and willingness. Deserves more time for Greece.
Vasilis Torosidis (N/A): Only played a few minutes but earned his 96th international cap, entering the top-5 in the Ethniki’s history.