Energetic Greece show promise
AGONAsport’s Ethniki contributor, Greg Gavalas, breaks down how the Greek team fared in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Group J minnows Liechtenstein.
Greece started their Euro 2020 campaign under new coach Angelos Anastasiadis in good fashion with a 2-0 away win over Liechtenstein and for the most part, the team looked on plan. The Greeks played with much energy and only poor finishing kept the score line at 2-0 as Greece dominated play for 90 minutes.
Best on the field was Kostas Fortounis, who made life difficult for the Liechtenstein defense and the Olympiacos star was awarded with a wonderful goal. He had a great game with plenty of running with the ball and passing whilst looking to continue the movement forward. Hopefully this will continue in the big games ahead.
The opponent was not one of any great pedigree, but given what was experienced under coach Michael Skibbe, it was good to see Greece take complete control of the game. The players pressured to regain possession when it was lost and when possession was returned, Greece were on the attack.
In defense, Dimitris Siovas led well and had everything under control. His partner, Dimitris Kourbelis, was also very good and even registered an assist with a wonderful long ball to Kostas Fortounis to give Greece a much needed goal in th dying moments of the first half.
Wing backs Leonardo Koutris and Michalis Bakakis got better as the game went on after average work in the first half. That being said, Kouris’ one-two combinations are something that stood out and could work well in tougher games ahead.
The midfielders had mixed results. Firstly, Andreas Samaris and Carlos Zeca got their up back which is promising going forward and both players were very involved. It was a mixture of some great passing and some poor passing all in all. Samaris, in particular, completed some great passes including pinpoint lob balls to the forwards, but plenty of passes went to the opposition and were weakly hit off target. This can not happen in games against stronger opposition, especially Bosnia and Italy.
On the wings, again, it was mixed results for Giorgos Masouras. The Olympiacos winger saw much of the ball after the 20 minute mark and had some great moments. In the second half, he was particularly involved and found himself in great spots to score, however his finishing was incredibly disappointing and needs much work on headers and shooting. He should have had at least one goal in this game to open his international account for the Ethniki, but he did register his first assist in the 80th minute, turning provider for Tasos Donis. It was good to see Masouras get in the thick of things and it was only his second senior cap. He will surely get better with time.
The same cannot be said for Tasos Bakasetas. The AEK midfielder was the worst Greek player on the pitch and offered little, besides losing possession most of the time. His skill level and technical abilities are just not good enough for the international level. His stature in the Ethniki just because he houses a great shot needs to be questioned. Simply put, Greece need better and more skilled played than Bakasetas moving forward. Giannis Fetfatzidis, for example, would offer much more on the wing as would Lazaros Lambrou who has seven goals this season in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Up front, Kostas Mitroglou only lasted 23 minutes after suffering a calf injury got the better of him. He was replaced by Donis who made the most of the opportunity with a wonderful goal late in the second half.
The question must be posed: Had Mitroglou stayed on the field, would Greece have scored more goals as many chances went begging?
Substitute Dimitris Kolovos, who replaced Bakasetas, put together some good touches and also showed that he would be a better option than the AEK midfielder. He has good passing and dribbling abilities with some decent speed.
Greek Super League top scorer, Efthimis Koulouris, only had 10 minutes to show any worth and did not get the ball much, with the exception of an acrobatic effort that missed the target. It would have been good to see him earlier on, given how many chances were wasted.
The below points scoring system, named the Gregorio analysis, is based on player contributions in a match and how positive their contribution was. Players that played 90 minutes and do not core more than three points had poor matches, whilst anything between 3-5 is a good ranking. Anything above a six mean the respective player had an outstanding match.
Below are my rankings for the Greek players against Liechtenstein:
Kostas Fortounis (5): Greece’s best player. He ran the attack and was a constant nuisance for the opposition. He was rewarded with a great goal.
Andreas Samaris (4.5): He was very involved and had mixed results with his passes. He will need to get be more consistent as some passes were great whilst others were poor.
Dimitris Siovas (4.5): He was very comfortable in defense and with the ball at his feet. When Manolas or Papastathopoulos are unavailable, Siovas is the go to man.
Giorgos Masouras (4): He was very involved in the match and got himself in great positions to score, but needs to work on his finishing. He also registered his first assist with the Ethniki in Tasos Donis’ 80th minute goal.
Michalis Bakakis (3.5): After a poor first half, Bakakis got forward in the second half. Whilst he didn’t deliver his best game, he put the ball on a platform for many to get a good cross or shot in.
Carlos Zeca (3.5): It was a consistent performance from the workhorse and did very well in getting possession back throughout the game.
Tasos Donis (3.5): He was subbed on for the injured Mitroglou, but disappeared a little in the middle of his sting. He started well and ended well and his speed is a big threat Greece need to use going forward.
Dimitris Kourbelis (3.5): He was strong in defense when needed and did a good job passing out from the back. He provided a brilliant long ball to set up Fortounis with the opening goal.
Leonardo Koutris (3): Like Bakakis, he had a poor first half but got forward in the second half and contributed much more.
Odisseas Vlachodimos (2): it was a quit game for the Benfica keeper as he hardly had to do anything.
Dimitris Kolovos (1.5): He was subbed on, showed some promise in dribbling, speed, and passing, and could be a useful addition over Bakasetas
Kostas Mitroglou (1): He was substituted off after 23 minutes due to injury. He only registered one good shot on goal.
Tasos Bakasetas (1): He did not contribute in a positive way and had many turnovers. He was substituted off after 71 minutes. Twenty caps later and hopefully this is his last.
Efthimios Koulouris (NA): He only played 10 minutes and attempted to score with a clever scissors kick effort.