Five years of the Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein
The Greek national team suffered a fresh embarrassment in the disastrous draw to Liechtenstein at the OAKA Stadium on Tuesday, marking an end to any hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European championships. It brought back bad memories for players and fans alike, as the ‘heavy climate’ associated with the team since its demise in 2014 continues on. AGONAsport’s Nick Tsambouniaris looks back at some of the Ethniki’s “embarrassing” results since 2014.
The Ethniki has not participated in a major tournament since the 2014 FIFA World Cup and it is no surprise that the number of defeats have doubled since that time. This is in spite of a high player turnover and several coaching changes. The atmosphere is rotten to the core and things do not look to be improving, but rather worsening
The years of 2002-2014 marked a golden era for Greek football, featuring the famous Euro 2004 triumph, a Euro 2012 quarter-final appearance, and a World Cup 2014 round of 16 appearance. The team was built on continuity, was highly close-knit, and was mentally strong refusing to lose. The playing style was usually dogged but it yielded results.
Since Otto Rehhagel took over in 2001, the Ethniki enjoyed more wins than losses in each and every year right up until 2014 when Fernando Santos departed. During this time, the team played 167 games and delivered a return of 78 wins, 45 draws, and 37 losses.
Conversely, since Euro 2016 qualifying the team has played 47 games for 14 wins, 11 draws and 22 losses. Among these 22 losses, there were some embarrassing moments including two defeats at the hands of the Faroe Islands. The first led to Claudio Ranieri’s sacking and it put Greek football back on the map for the wrong reasons. A poor loss to Luxembourg in a friendly was another bitter pill to swallow in Michael Skibbe’s first game in charge.
These negative results have continued even after Skibbe’s departure as Estonia defeated the Greeks in their final UEFA Nations League match in November of 2018 under the guidance of Angelos Anastasiadis (Estonia also picked up a goalless draw in 2017 during 2018 World Cup qualifying during Skibbe’s reign).
Despite that loss, the Ethniki got off to a good start in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying after picking up four points from their opening to matches away to Liechtenstein and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, everything took a turn for the worse in June as Italy thrashed Greece 0:3 at the OAKA Stadium on matchday three before Armenia stunned the Ethniki with a 2:3 win in Athens.
The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) took action and sacked coach Angelos Anastasiadis in hopes of salvaging anything from the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. However, in John Van ‘t Schip’s debut, Greece fell to Finland 1:0 on the road to all but ended their hopes for qualifying.
When things could not get any worse for the Galanolefki, they did on Tuesday evening at a very cold OAKA Stadium. With Greece taking the lead in the first half and missing multiple chances to increase their advantage after the restart, Liechtenstein struck the ultimate blow in the 85th minute to score their first goal in a competitive match since 2015 (!) and earn their first point of the campaign. The players celebrated their historic result at the expense of a former European champion and a team that has hit rock bottom yet again.
Below is a list of the Ethniki’s results to forget since the downfall began in 2014.
14-Oct-14: Greece - N. Ireland 0:2 (Euro 2016 qualifying)
14-Nov-14: Greece - Faroe Islands 0:1 (Euro 2016 qualifying)
13-Jun-15: Faroe Islands- Greece 2:1 (Euro 2016 qualifying)
4-Sep-15: Greece - Finland 0:1 (Euro 2016 qualifying)
8-Oct-15: N. Ireland - Greece 3:1 (Euro 2016 qualifying)
13-Nov-15: Luxembourg - Greece 1:0 (Friendly)
9-Nov-16: Greece - Belarus 0:1 (Friendly)
31-Aug-17: Greece - Estonia 0:0 (2018 World Cup qualifier)
9-Nov-17: Croatia - Greece 4:1 (2018 World Cup qualifier)
11-Sep-18: Hungary - Greece 2:1 (UEFA Nations League)
15-Oct-18: Finland - Greece 2:0 (UEFA Nations League)
18-Nov-18: Greece - Estonia 0:1 (UEFA Nations League)
8-Jun-19: Greece - Italy 0:3 (Euro 2020 qualifying)
11-Jun-19: Greece - Armenia 2:3 (Euro 2020 qualifying)
5-Sep-19: Finland - Greece 1:0 (Euro 2020 qualifying)
8-Sep-19: Greece - Liechtenstein 1:1 (Euro 2020 qualifying)