Friday Frappé: In A League (C) of Our Own?
In this week’s edition of the Friday Frappé, AGONAsport’s Peter Katsiris dissects the reality check Greek football received following Greece’s debut in the UEFA Nations League...
UEFA’s latest attempt to liven up international football got underway this past weekend as the continent took part in the first-ever games of the UEFA Nations League. Although there were still some friendlies for European teams, there was nothing friendly about the Nations League as teams within the four leagues of the competition began their bid to secure one of four bonus entries to the 2020 European Championship.
Greece’s debut in the Nations League might have gone to plan after the Ethniki sneaked away with all three points courtesy of 1-0 win over Estonia, but the result seemed to cover up major flaws in the play of the National Team.
Those flaws came to light when Greece faced Hungary in Budapest a few days later. While the Ethniki created several chances in the first half, a lack of finishing and poor defending at the other end of the pitch saw Greece ultimately succumb to a 2-1 defeat.
The results in Tallinn and Budapest, and more so the performances, certainly provided a reality check for a Greece side that was labelled as the favourites of the group. Although all is not lost for the Ethniki with four matchdays remaining in the group stage, including three home fixtures at OAKA, it does seem that Greece are already not living up to expectations.
Perhaps expectations should be defined, but the general buzz around Greece’s Nations League campaign was that the Ethniki were figuratively slapped in the face when they were slotted in the third tier of the competition. That said, when the draw was made for the group stage, the expectation for the Ethniki was to finish first in the group and at the very least earn promotion to League B – if not also enjoy the benefit of EURO 2020 berth via the playoffs.
Now, after just two matchdays, it seems that Greece are in the right tier of the Nations League and thus the campaign might not be as fluid as fans of the Ethniki might have expected.
Of course, it’s a reality check that fans should have seen coming after the Ethniki failed to qualify for both EURO 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but resilient attitude the National Team has shown in the past continues to set a standard – unfortunately as fans we haven’t seen the team play to that standard for quite a long time.
by Peter Katsiris
Image Source: .gr