With parliamentary elections taking place today, the focus of the world is very much on Greece and its people.
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Many commentators have observed the subdued nature of the Greeks in the days running up to the election, with demonstrators and supporters alike seemingly tired from their previous exertions. After their sensational victory over a much fancied Russian outfit in the European Championships yesterday, it would be fitting for the country that gave us the Olympic Games to take to the streets for sporting, rather than political reasons.
Giorgos Karagounis’s strike was the difference between the sides in the end, sending the Greeks through to the quarter finals, and the Russians packing their bags. Outgoing manager Dick Advocaat offered little excuse for their failure to find the back of the Greek net. “There was only one team going forward and the other team just defended but we didn’t put away our chances. We just weren’t sharp enough”.
Memories of the historic 2004 campaign will be conjured up, when Otto Rehhagel led the unfancied outfit to victories over Portugal (twice), France and the Czech Republic. 750, 000 fans welcomed their heroes back in Athens in 2004, and success this time round would serve as a welcome distraction in one of the most troubling times in the country’s recent history.
The odds are firmly stacked against Greece, as this side is not as technically strong as the victorious side of eight years ago, though their industry and doggedness is still the cornerstone of the team. Goalscorer Karagounis became the most capped Greek player against Greece, though his indiscipline means he is suspended for the quarter final. After missing the final in 2004 for the same reason, he more than anyone will be doing everything in his power to get this unfancied team to another final. The Greeks could be in for a roller-coaster of emotions over the next two weeks.