Greece aiming for revenge after Budapest disappointment
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
After disappointment in Budapest, Greece host Hungary in Athens with revenge in mind. AGONAsport previews the UEFA Nations League battle.
In the opening match of the newly created UEFA Nations League, the Ethniki Omada performed well against a stubborn Estonian team in Tallinn, tallying an important 1:0 victory with influential midfielder Konstantinos Fortounis striking. However, instead of following the win up with a second triumph, the Greeks contrived to lose 1:2 in Hungary after conceding two sloppy markers. Roland Sallai and Kostas Manolas traded early goals, but on the stroke of half time, Laszlo Kleinheisler fired in an emphatic winner with the Greek defence in a horrible mess.
That result has put head coach Michael Skibbe’s job in serious danger. According to various reports in the media, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) scheduled a meeting with Skibbe after the Hungarian setback, making it clear that an improvement is necessary otherwise he will face the consequences. Pressure from the fan base is increasing and Skibbe is in desperate need of a positive outcome.
Unfortunately, he’s been hampered by serious injury problems. Since naming his squad to play Hungary and Finland, selected players Marios Oikonomou, Vasilis Torosidis and Petros Mantalos have all been ruled out, with Vasilis Lampropoulos and Giannis Fetfatzidis called up as replacements. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos is nursing a knock and it’s 50/50 whether he can play against the Hungarians at the Olympic Stadium.
TEAM NEWS: GREECE
As already mentioned, Skibbe’s squad is somewhat weaker than originally planned, but it should still be good enough to beat Hungary at the OAKA. Depending on his fitness, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos could be in contention to start, while it will be interesting to see if Vasilis Barkas or Alexandros Paschalakis gets the nod in net. Skibbe promised that Greece will play in an attacking manner and the team will rely on Konstantinos Mitroglou for the goals.
Possible line-up: Barkas, Bakakis, Papastathopoulos, Manolas, Tsimikas, Zeca, Bouchalakis, Fortounis, Pelkas, Bakasetas, Mitroglou.
TEAM NEWS: HUNGARY
Hungary, managed by 54-year old Italian coach Marco Rossi, don’t have any serious injury worries and travel to the Greek capital in confident mood. Rossi has recalled Adam Gyurcso, Dominik Nagy and Krisztian Nemeth to the roster, however the readiness of Hajduk Split winger Gyurcso is in question. The Hungarians are likely to opt for a defensive approach with an emphasis on dangerous counterattacks.
Possible line-up: Gulacsi, Fiola, Lang, Kadar, Bese, A. Nagy, Kovacs, Kleinheisler, Varga, Sallai, Szalai.
REFEREE: TOBIAS STIELER (GER)
37-year old Tobias Stieler, a referee from Germany, will be the man in the middle between Greece and Hungary. In the current season, Stieler refereed the Standard Liege - Ajax UEFA Champions League qualifying match (2:2) and the Ufa - Rangers game in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers (1:1), handing out a combined total of eight yellow cards and two reds in those fixtures. He was categorized by FIFA in 2014.
Referee: Tobias Stieler (GER)
Assistant referees: Rafael Foltyn (GER), Marco Achmuller (GER)
Fourth official: Christian Gittelmann (GER)