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Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro 2008: Greece and Sweden Facing Each Other in Their Opening Match

Defending Champion Greece starts their Euro 2008 mission on 10 June 2008 in a Group D match against Sweden. Greece stunned the football world winning the Euro 2004 title four years back in Portugal thanks to their excellent defensive approach that worked well for them. Last time Greece came as an underdog side and surprised the football powerhouses to become the winner of the competition, but this time they are considered as one of the favorites of Euro 2008 and share the lime light with some other big names like Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands etc. So, they have got to prove that whatever they did four years ago was not fluke and show that they have enough talent to be considered as one of the big names of Europe. So, the opening match against Sweden is very important for Greece.

Do you know the head to head record of the two sides till date? Well, that would not talk in favor of the Greeks as Greece was demolished 0-9 by Sweden on 28 August 1920 in a Summer Olympic match. This is the only time Greece faced Sweden in the history of football. However, many things have been changed in these long spell of time. Greece is no more an underdog of Europe, while Sweden has also lost many of its past glory by this time. So, Sweden can not take any inspiration from that emphatic victory.

Following Greece’s Europe win, Greece went through a bad spell of time, from where they bounced back in Euro 2008 qualifying round and won a ticket to make it to the Euro 2008 final. Their national hero coach Otto Rehhagel is now gearing up to show another impressive performance in Euro 2008 finishing off all the talks regarding Greece’s ability at these level of tournament.

There is no major injury woe in Greece squad and the good news for Greece fans is that Panathinaikos central midfielder Yorgos Karagounis will be in the starting line up against Sweden, after recovering from knee injury. Captain Angelos Basinas was in excellent form four years back in Portugal. Sweden’s main strength perhaps lies in their star studded attacking line up including Henke Larsson and Ibrahimovic. However, striker Ibrahimovic is not yet sure for the first match due to his minor problem to his knee. Whatever it is, Sweden is expected to throw a strong challenge for Greece in the match.

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