Spain v Greece preview
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Otto Rehhagel's well drilled and competitive Greek side were impressive in beating the much fancied Portugal in the tournament's opening game and the experienced German coach will be hoping for a repeat performance against Spain.
After a display in which Greece exceeded pre-tournament expectations, Rehhagel will be hoping to keep a similar shape and line-up to the side which beat hosts Portugal.
Injury-wise, Rehhagel's major doubt concerns the fitness of influential midfielder Giorgias Karagounis, who is struggling with a niggling ankle injury.
If the Internazionale schemer, who notched the tournament's first goal, fails to resume full fitness a recall for Vassilis Tsartas is the likeliest option for Rehhagel.
The AEK Athens midfielder has spoken of his disappointment in being reduced to a periphery role and would be keen to cement his place if handed an opportunity.
Also potentially sidelined is goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis who has aggravated a shoulder injury. The experienced custodian will undergo a late fitness test but is expected to be declared fit to start.
One other minor worry for Greece is the fitness of Panathinaikos defender Giourkas Seitaridis, who was struggling with a foot injury after Sunday's game.
Spain's narrow 1-0 victory over Russia should not disguise a largely dominant display and with Greece earmarked as Group A's weakest side, Inaki Saez will demand victory from his perennial underachievers.
The quintessential dark horses, Spain normally begin tournaments in an unconvincing fashion and thus will be confident after securing a rare early victory.
Although substitute Juan Carlos Valeron proved to be Saturday's match winner, scoring with his first touch, it is anticipated that the elegant midfielder will once again have to settle for a place alongside Saez on the Spain bench.
However, speculation from the Spanish camp has indicated that there will be changes to Saez's starting line-up.
Valencia midfielder Ruben Baraja faces being usurped by Sociedad starlet Xabi Alonso, whilst Raul may have to share the forward line with Fernando Torres instead of favoured partner Fernando Morientes.
The Real Madrid target man looked slightly laboured in his efforts on Saturday and could now make way for Torres, a rising star with neighbours Atletico.
Otherwise, Saez will content himself with the side that earned an impressive result against an organized but dour Russian side.
Rehhagel will be hoping for a repeat performance from his side but in Spain, faces opposition not short of either form or confidence - which could ultimately prove too much for his Greek side.
|Greece 9/2 Draw 9/4 Spain 8/11 - |
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