Skibbe’s first thoughts for Greece’s starting XI
Michael Skibbe has not released his plans for Greece’s starting XI against Croatia and does not plan to do so before tomorrow’s kick off. Many questions remain as to who will begin for the Ethniki in Zagreb.
Only a few players have a guaranteed spot in Greece’s starting XI for tomorrow's first leg matchup in Zagreb including Karnezis, K. Papadopoulos, Zeca, Fortounis, and Mitroglou. According to sportfm.gr, Skibbe will likely use a 4-2-3-1 formation in a full defensive mindset with hopes of not tasting defeat in the first leg.
With Papastathopoulos’ availability expected, the Borussia Dortmund man will start for Greece alongside Kyriakos Papadopoulos in the center of defense while Tzavellas will be placed out left and Retsos (or Maniatis) is set to start in the right back position. Torosidis’ availability will be a gametime decision, but Skibbe does not want to risk a further injury for the Greek captain and will likely start him on the bench. Karnezis will start in goal.
Things get complicated in the midfield with Zeca and Fortunis both guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. Fortounis will play behind the lone striker, Kostas Mitroglou, while Zeca will begin as a defensive midfielder or out right, as he did against Belgium and did very well in that position (scored against Belgium).
If Zeca is placed out right, two of the following Tziolis, Samaris, or Tachtsidis will begin in the holding midfield position. If Zeca begins in the midfield one of the three (Tziolis, Samaris, Tachtsidis) will partner the former Panathinaikos captain with Tziolis having the upperhand over the other two players in both scenarios mentioned above.
Stafylidis is expected to start out on the left wing as he has done many times before, further strengthening the defensive line out left. If Zeca does not begin out right, Tasos Bakasetas has the upper-hand to begin out right while Kostas Mitroglou will begin in the no. 9 position up top.