Horror show in Zagreb marks Greece’s worst defensive performance for years
Greece saw their World Cup hopes shattered in Zagreb, as the Ethniki dropped a disappointing 4:1 defeat to Croatia in the first leg of the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, the loss has set a number of anti-records for the 2004 European champions.
The Greeks have long been known for being one Europe’s top teams in defence, but it was a simply shocking defensive performance against the Croatians. Without the disqualified Kostas Manolas, Greece conceded four goals in one match for the first time since 2012, when the team were beaten 4:2 by Germany in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
You have to go back eleven years to when Greece let in three goals in the first half of a match. That defeat came against England 4:0 in a friendly match, however the previous official game where Greece conceded three during the first 45 was in 2001 against the Finns. Finland managed to score four in the opening half, eventually winning 5:1.
In 2007, Greece were thrashed 4:1 by Turkey at the Karaiskakis Stadium in a European Championship qualifier. Before Thursday’s horror show against Croatia, that was Greece’s most recent loss by three goals in a tournament match. If the Ethniki are to have any hope of pulling off an historic comeback, the defence has to make a huge improvement for Sunday’s crucial fixture against the Croats in Piraeus.