Greece has lost five out of 10 previous matches against Italy, but in order to mount a realistic chance for UEFA Euro 2020 qualification, at least one point is required at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
A crucial stage of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualification process begins on Saturday. Having claimed four points in the first two games against Liechtenstein and Bosnia, Greece are in a promising position in Group J, but the team face a stern test on Saturday evening. Traditionally one of Europe’s footballing superpowers, Italy are always difficult opponents, and history is most certainly on their side.
In the past, Greece and Italy have played each other on 10 occasions (excluding the Mediterranean Cup), with the latter claiming five wins. Four of the 10 games ended in a draw, while the Greeks have only gained the one victory in a friendly match in 1972. The most recent encounter was a 1:1 tie at the Karaiskakis Stadium 11 years ago.
Let’s take a look at five of the 10 matches in more detail:
November 19, 2008. Greece – Italy – 1:1, friendly match
In 2008, Greece welcomed Italy to the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, claiming a 1:1 draw. The Italians were creating the majority of opportunities, but five minutes into the second half, Theofanis Gekas found a gap in the opposing defence and lashed a powerful attempt beyond Morgan De Sanctis. However, Italy conjured up an instant response just four minutes later, as Luca Toni headed a free-kick into the right corner.
November 14, 1981. Italy – Greece – 1:1, 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifier
In the penultimate match of Group F, the Greeks made the trip to Turin to play their Italian opponents. In the 61st minute, Bruno Conti handed Italy the advantage with a low drive from inside the penalty area, but Greece weren’t to leave empty handed. With only three minutes remaining on the clock, Konstantinos Kuis rose highest to meet a cross from the right wing, heading past the goalkeeper to snatch a point. Italy qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in second place, while Greece missed out in fourth spot.
December 6, 1980. Greece – Italy – 0:2, 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifier
The first match between the two countries in Group F of 1982 World Cup qualification took place at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. Unfortunately for Greece, the visitors quickly broke the deadlock in Athens, with Giancarlo Antognoni sending a pinpoint individual attempt into the left corner. Gaetano Scirea sealed the 2:0 Italian victory in the closing stages when completing a flowing attacking move.
March 4, 1972. Greece – Italy – 2:1, friendly match
The last time when Greece defeated the Italians was back in March 1972 in a friendly encounter at the Karaiskakis Stadium. Following an opening goal from Antonios Antoniadis, Italy equalised through Roberto Boninsegna, but Spiridon Pomonis grabbed a 2:1 victory for Greece by scoring the winner in the 55th minute of play.
March 25, 1934. Italy – Greece – 4:0, 1934 FIFA World Cup qualification
Greece and Italy were the only two teams placed in Group 3 of the qualification process. In the first game, the Ethniki Omada were well beaten at the San Siro in Milan, conceding a heavy 0:4 defeat as Anfilogino Guarisi, Giuseppe Meazza (2) and Giovanni Ferrari struck gold for the Italian victors. Greece subsequently withdrew from the competition before the second match on Hellenic soil had even been played.