Greece take on an impressive Russian side in their final group game at Euro 2012 knowing nothing other than a win will do as they bid to progress.
The 2004 European champions kicked off the tournament with a battling 1-1 draw against co-hosts Poland but were then beaten 2-1 by the Czech Republic and are really up against it to qualify for the last eight.
Fernando Santos’ side paid for two poor first-half performances in those games and they cannot afford a repeat when they take on Russia on Saturday.
They were expected to be a side difficult to break down in the tournament and therefore hard to beat, as in 2004, but they conceded within the first 20 minutes against Poland before going two down to the Czechs inside the first six minutes.
They did improve in both games, with a spirited second-half display against Poland when down to 10 men the highlight, but Santos’ ageing side look too short of quality to hurt Russia. They rely too much on playmaker Giorgos Karagounis but when he gets over-run in midfield there is little to fall back on.
Losing first-choice central defenders Avraam Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos for the Czech Republic game clearly did not help their cause at the back and, while the latter returns from suspension on Saturday, Russia still have too much firepower for them.
Dick Advocaat’s men tore the Czechs apart in their first game, winning 4-1, and have a potential player of the tournament in Alan Dzagoev. His three goals so far leaves him joint top of the goalscoring chart in the competition and he will fancy his chances of more against theleaky Greece rearguard.
Elsewhere, Andrey Arshavin has looked much more like the player Arsene Wenger paid all that money for a couple of years ago, providing the inspiration and ingenuity from just behind the forwards to unlock defences, while Alexander Kerzhakhov is also an all-round threat.
They are solid at the back with Sergei Ignashevich and Yuri Zhirkov excelling so another convincing victory is likely in this one.