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Preview: Greece – Russia

SoccerNews in European Championships 13 Jun 2008

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Greece and Russia will have everything to play for in their second Euro 2008 Group D encounter as another defeat would most probably mean the end to their Euro dreams.

The Greeks began their tournament particularly weak despite being title defenders. Against the Swedes, very few chances were created and the 2-0 loss seemed inevitable.

Against Russia, Greece boss Otto Rehhagel will have to find another way to make a difference.

Player Dimitris Salpingidis is very aware of his team’s situation: “Our aim is to get four or six points from these next two matches. Our game against Russia is extremely important – if we lose, we are out – that says it all.”

And Sotiris Kyrgiakos added: “We didn’t mean to play defensively against Sweden, but that’s how it turned out. The Swedes had done their homework and didn’t give us any space.

“We lost a battle, not the war. We don’t need to answer to anyone. We have to win on Saturday and then qualify for the quarter-finals. We know the drill.”

Russia meanwhile expected a lot more from this tournament after their successful qualifying campaign, which left England out of Euro 2008.

Although Spain were always considered the stronger opponent in the opening match, not many expected Russia to be pushed aside so easily.

Dutch manager Guus Hiddink has tried to move some of the pressure away from him and to Greece: “We’re going to have to be very smart and try not to walk into the traps they set. I personally think that, as European champions, they should take more initiative but OK – that’s their way of playing and we’ll have to deal with it.”

Russia have serious problems up front as Roman Pavlyuchenko might miss the match as result of pain in his upper thigh. The striker missed Thursday’s training session.

The two teams last met at Euro 2004. Greece went on to win the championship but did suffer their only defeat against the Russians in the final group match, 2-1.

Referee Rosetti will lead the match, assisted by linesmen Griselli and Calcagno and fourth official Benquerença of Portugal.

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