Game in a sentence
Greece put out a red carpet on their left side for Gebre Selassie to walk all over, giving the Czech Republic a flattering (and vital) win.
- Greece went with a 4-3-3 with significant changes from their first match against Poland. Ninis and Gekas were replaced up front by Salpingidis and Fortounis, and Katsouranis dropped from defensive mid into the centre-back role. Papastathopoulos started on the bench. The Twitter consensus ahead of time was that this was great, and everything was going to be okay from now on…
- Some minor changes too for the Czech Republic. Hübschman replaced Rezec in defensive midfield, while Jiracek moved up to the right side of the three in the 4-2-3-1, and Limbersky came on in left-back, while Kadlec moved to central defense.
- Despite their line-up shuffling, Greece were TERRIBLE defending the Czechs’ right flank. Gebre Selassie basically owned Holebas in left back, who was chronically unable to track back and defend properly, often allowing Selassie to run into space and for Jiracek to cut in the box. This allowed the Czechs to easily pass into the centre of the area and score two goals in quick succession from Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar.
- Greek goalkeeper Chalkias however was at fault on the second goal, failing to stop Selassie’s cross which met the body of Vaclav Pilar. He was very poor at commanding his box, but he certainly wasn’t helped by inept defending. It looked certain early on to be a rout, though Chalkias was subbed off in the 23rd minute for Sifakis because of a “back injury.” Which I will accept as the truth.
- That said, Greece flattered the Czechs, who despite being able to cut in on the right with aplomb in the early going didn’t do much to follow it up and slowly began to drift deeper as the game progressed. That allowed Greece to draw fouls for free kicks, and that resulted in the perfect set up in the 41st minute, when Fotakis appeared to have headed Greece ahead from a free kick into the box, only to have it incorrectly chalked off for offside.
- Among a few half time changes for both teams, Gekas came on for Fotakis, and within seven minutes he put Greece up 1-2 after the centreback Sivok crashed into Cech just as he was bobbling a routine through ball, which allowed the Greek midfielder to simply knock the ball into the empty net. That made the game interesting and gave Greece a lifeline, but they failed to take advantage and made me angry in the process.
- Greece didn’t really do much to threaten the Czech goal for the rest of the fixture despite some more set-piece opportunities. Greece didn’t manage a shot on target save for the goal, nor a non-blocked shot from within the 18 yard-box. A dismal performance all around, although it might fool a few people into thinking the Czechs are a better team than they really are, despite some competent defending.
- Milon Baros? Seriously Czech Republic? You don’t need a mascot up front.
1. Theodor Gebre Selassie
2. Tomás Hübschman
3. Petr Jiracek