Today, Saturday, March 23, Greece will begin the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a test away to Group J outsiders Liechtenstein, and history suggests the Ethniki Omada should earn the three points as expected.
Considering how the Greek national team has performed over the past few years, not even matches against the likes of Liechtenstein can be taken for granted, but if the Ethniki Omada hold hope of qualifying for UEFA Euro 2020, a victory is the only option on Saturday. In the past, Greece and Liechtenstein have met on three occasions, with the Ethniki winning all three games with a combined goal difference of +5 (5-0). One of those matches was a friendly ahead of UEFA Euro 2004.
Let’s take a look back at the two competitive games in more detail:
06/09/2013, Liechtenstein - Greece - 0:1, 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
As we know, Greece successfully qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup after defeating Romania in the playoffs, but the Ethniki Omada struggled to break down a stubborn Liechtenstein side on the road in September 2013. Predictably, the Greeks dominated proceedings against the minnows, however, the finishing touch was lacking.
Fears were growing that the goal wasn’t going to come, but with 18 minutes remaining, Konstantinos Mitroglou saved Greece’s blushes. Connecting with a pinpoint cross from the left wing, Mitroglou finally struck gold at point blank range, in turn handing the Ethniki an important three points on the way to Brazil.
15/10/2013, Greece - Liechtenstein - 2:0, 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
This time, there were very little nerves shredded. In the return fixture between the teams at the Karaiskakis Stadium, the Greeks immediately took charge of proceedings, scoring within seven minutes as Dimitris Salpingidis gave a flowing play the finish it deserved inside the penalty area.
The second half wasn’t much of a spectacle, but in the 81st minute, the talismanic Giorgos Karagounis whipped a wonderful free-kick into the net with the help of the right post. The 2:0 victory could have taken Greece directly to the World Cup without the playoffs, but over in Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina secured the three points they needed to finish in first place of Group G. The Bosnians took first spot due to the superior head-to-head record over Greece (0:0, 3:1).
Back on June 3, 2004, the two countries also met in a friendly match, as Greece managed to run out comfortable 2:0 winners as Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas hit the target. The game was held in preparation for UEFA Euro 2004, a competition which the Ethniki Omada famously won with veteran German manager Otto Rehhagel at the helm.
by Shaun Nicolaides
The match can be seen LIVE from AGONAsport, courtesy of World Greek TV, for anyone living outside of Greece or Cyprus. The match will be televised in Greek commentary. Purchasing details can be found by following this link.