Monday, May 19, 2014

Meet the Team: Greece

From Vanity Fair
Nickname: Rather than the blunt "National" or another color-scheme name "sky-blue white", we'd like to call the Greeks Piratiko "The Pirate Ship"

Star: While Konstantinos Mitroglou has risen to prominence (thanks in no small part to 3 goals in the cup playoff against Romania and an ensuing transfer to Fulham), it's still Giorgos Karagounis' team. The midfielder is the Captain of these pirates, and far more reliable Jack Sparrow (though with less guy-liner). Karagounis is a more rough and tumble midfielder, building off of set pieces and serving as a unique link between the current squad, the 2010 one, and the miracle European champs of 2004.

Hip-Star: If Karagounis is the overexposed Captain Jack of the Piratiko, Kostas Fortounis is the too often forgotten swashbuckler Will Turner. Having sliced and diced defenses at age 16, he's still just 21 and could, nay, should be the future of Greek soccer. Unless the powers-that-be assume that the "over exposed" are really the talented ones.

X-Factor: The aging backbone of Greece's defense is as creaky as a hull peppered with cannonballs (wow, I really like that pirate trope don't I?). But it was superb in qualifying allowing six goals in 12 matches...half of them in one game against Edin Dzeko and Bosnia. Of course they won't face Dzeko in Brazil, but are Radamel Falcao, Didier Drogba and Keisuke Honda really an easier squad of opponents?

Coach: Greece's best run at a tournament since 2004 came in a quarterfinal run in 2012 under the eyes of Fernando Santos who seems to be on a ceaseless county fair pirate ship ride swinging between Portuguese and Greek teams, every two or three years. So, get ready Portugal, he's due back soon.

Credit to "The Howler"
History: In two cups the Greeks have one win over Nigeria in 2010. And while the glory of 2004 still shines brightly, it's not much in comparison with the World Cup struggles. But if they can ever find that old map where X marks the spot...well.

Food: I'm grateful that Greek cuisine is often cooking free: yogurt/olives/feta cheese. While Kalamari is tempting (and a little squid might fit nicely with the pirate theme, making my own Tzatziki for pita dipping may be just the thing for lounging, watching and snacking.

Fool: Oh, Greece, if your national team is a pirate ship, your political scene is the Titanic. Bickering, infighting disastrous elections and worst of all: Golden Dawn the Neo Nazi Group led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Any credit given to triumphs by the all Greek squad will be coopted...the punks.

Best Case: Somehow the glory days of the old Greek squad come back, plundering Brazil for its ragamuffin riches, getting a miraculous Quarterfinal spot over a bedraggled Group D offering, and Fernando Santos sets up a glorious return to Portugal...perhaps as the new national manager there.

Worst Case: All the underwhelming, worn down, exhausted Greek days of Cups gone by are back in force and they exit meekly in fourth place....the real Greek team having retired 10 years ago, living like Kings in Patagonia.

My prediction: Despite the strong showing in qualifying, The Pirate Ship's days of riding a stalwart defense to victory are ten years gone, and no clear attacking game plan has emerged since for Greece. I can't see them find a strategy that makes a huge difference within a tricky group C. Without a swash to buckle it's sad, but true: 4th Place--0 points

Added Bouns: Less because of what he is and more because it's my chance to spite Golden Dawn, the World Cup of Hip Hop spot goes to Killah P aka Pavlos Fyssas.

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