Greece Ready To Clinch Playoff Place (GRE-GIB Preview)
FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - GROUP H (MATCHDAY 10)
|Greece||2:45 PM (EST)||Gibraltar|
Georgios Tsitsonis from AGONAsport.com brings you a full preview for Greece's final group stage qualifier against minnows Gibraltar.
Greece need to defeat Gibraltar at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Tuesday night in order to book their ticket to a World Cup Playoff. Michael Skibbe’s men were victorious over Cyprus at the weekend as they leap-frogged Bosnia into 2nd place in Group H of European qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Needing outside help to ensure they would finish amongst the top eight 2nd-placed teams, the Ethniki received a big gift on Sunday when Slovenia drew 2-2 with Scotland.
Everything has worked out as it needed to for Greece to clinch a playoff berth and now the only thing remains is to defeat the minnows from Gibraltar in this group finale.
Gibraltar have lost all their matches in qualification and have long since been playing for purposes of pride. Jeff Wood’s side have been thrashed in this group, but they have also put in some respectable performances. The highlight of their campaign so far was the 2-1 home defeat to Cyprus, where Gibraltar were probably the better side over the course of the 90 minutes.
Greece will have to make do without a trio of suspended players for this match due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Kostas Manolas, Tasos Donis, and Andreas Samaris all picked up cautions in the win over Cyprus and will all serve their one-match ban against Gibraltar.
Vasilis Torosidis will be available for selection after picking up a knock that caused him to go off against Cyprus. Manolis Siopis has been called up to the side for Tuesday’s match in order to bolster the midfield.
Wood would have been hoping that Lee Casciaro could have overcome his recent injury and feature in this final group match. The Lincoln Red Imps striker and one of the country’s top players, Casciaro missed out on the Estonia match through an injury that will also see him miss Tuesday’s game in Piraeus. His replacement will likely be Jamie Coombes, who featured against Estonia.
Greece: Karnezis, Tzavellas, Papadopoulos, Papastathopoulos, Torosidis, Zeca, Tziolis, Fortounis, Christodoulopoulos, Mantalos, Mitroglou
Gibraltar: Ibrahim, Garcia, Bardon, Chipolina, Walker, Olivero, Bosio, Barnett, Pusey, Hernandez, Coombes
10/7/17 Cyprus-Greece 1-2 (World Cup Qualifier)
9/3/17 Greece-Belgium 1-2 (World Cup Qualifier)
8/31/17 Greece-Estonia 0-0 (World Cup Qualifier)
6/9/17 Bosnia-Greece 0-0 (World Cup Qualifier)
3/25/17 Belgium-Greece 1-1 (World Cup Qualifier
10/7/17 Gibraltar-Estonia 0-6 (World Cup Qualifier)
9/3/17 Gibraltar-Bosnia 0-4 (World Cup Qualifier)
8/31/17 Belgium-Gibraltar 9-0 (World Cup Qualifier)
6/9/17 Gibraltar-Cyprus 1-2 (World Cup Qualifier)
3/25/17 Bosnia-Gibraltar 5-0 (World Cup Qualifier)
The two sides have met on only one previous occasion. That was in the opening round of this qualifying group when Greece defeated Gibraltar away 4-1.
Despite the obvious gap in class, this is a match that Greece must show professionalism and focus for 90 minutes. In the qualifying opener, the team fell asleep at Gibraltar to concede an equalizer on the half-hour, a goal that sparked memories of defeats to the Faroe Islands and Luxembourg.
The national team have recovered from those disasters and look to have regained the unity and teamwork that has been a hallmark of the side over the last two decades. Greece are expected to pick up the three points and produce a good performance to keep the momentum going into the November playoffs.
WHERE TO WATCH
Watch it live from AGONAsport here, available WORLDWIDE except in Greece and Cyprus! For those in Greece, the game will be on OTE Sport 1 and SKAI while ESPN3 will be showing it in the USA. For Canada, it will be on Sportsnet World Now and in Australia on WATCHESPN. Full TV listings can be found here.