Mitroglou to become 14th Greek to participate in European final if fit
Marseille hitman Kostas Mitroglou is still an injury doubt for the UEFA Europa League showdown against Atletico Madrid, however he will become the 14th Greek to compete in a European club final if he recovers. AGONAsport investigates further.
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The 30-year old has participated in six Europa League games in Marseille’s tough journey to the final, but although he hasn’t scored any European goals, Mitroglou offers the team a target man when moving forward and controls the ball to good effect. Marseille required extra-time to qualify for the tournament’s final, defeating RB Salzburg 3:2 on aggregate after initially surrendering a 2:0 lead from the first leg. Assuming Mitroglou recovers in time, the Greek could feature in Marseille’s starting line-up.
With the Europa League climax due to take place on Saturday, let’s take a trip back in time and look at how other Greeks competed in previous European finals.
Panathinaikos, 1971 European Cup final
The struggling Athenian giants were once considered one of Europe’s top teams in their heyday, reaching the 1970/1971 European Cup final where the team lost 0:2 to Ajax. Talented players such as Mimis Domazos, Takis Ikonomopoulos, Antonis Antoniadis and Artistidis Kamaris inspired Panathinaikos to a wonderful run in the continent’s leading competition, helping the Greens defeat Jeunesse Esch, Slovan Bratislava, Everton and Red Star Belgrade to make the final. Legendary head coach Ferenc Puskas didn’t make any substitutions in the final defeat against Ajax at the Wembley Stadium in London.
Akis Zikos, 2004 UEFA Champions League final
33 years later, a Greek player finally participated in a European final again. Defensive midfielder Akis Zikos, representing AS Monaco, remained on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes of the Champions League final against FC Porto, but he was helpless to save Monaco from a comprehensive 0:3 loss in Gelsenkirchen. Despite losing the game, Zikos displayed his patriotism after the final whistle, collecting his silver medal with the Greek flag wrapped around him.
Alexandros Tziolis, 2009 UEFA Cup final
Midfielder Alexandros Tziolis, who now plays his football in Saudi Arabia with Al Fayha, came on after 103 minutes of the dramatic 2009 UEFA Cup final against Shakhtar Donetsk, the competition’s last match before it was renamed the Europa League. During his time on the pitch, Tziolis received a yellow card and flashed a low drive inches wide of the target as Werder Bremen lost 1:2 to their Ukrainian opponents.