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Posted by George Tsitsonis on 06/12/2010

The 2-0 loss to South Korea in our 2010 World Cup opener today awoke the bad memories of the 1994 tournament. Greece looked awful for most of the match against a decent South Korean side.

I say decent because it was evident from my vantage point that while South Korea do have quality, this is for all intents and purposes a fairly limited side whose defensive frailties will face severe examination when it comes up against better sides than Greece.

I’m not here to talk about South Korea though and in all fairness congrats to them on a comfortable win. I am here to talk about Greece and once again we start the tournament off on the wrong foot and if we are to point fingers then they must be directed at Otto Rehhagel.

Puzzling Decisions

It is en vogue to blame the manager when results go against you, sometimes though it’s not the manager who is the one at fault. In regards to our loss against South Korea on Saturday, let’s be straight, 100% of the blame rests on the puzzling decisions made by boss Otto Rehhagel.

For starters, the decision to not field the likes of Sotiris Kyrgiakos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos instead going with Loukas Vyntra and Avraam Papadopoulos in defense was one that backfired tremendously. The logic of pairing Vyntra and Papadopoulos has to be questioned, these players have rarely played side by side in the center of the Greek backline. It was as though Rehhagel threw some players out there and hoped for the best. Hindsight is 20/20, but with Kyrgiakos’ towering presence, would we have given up that early goal which proved to be so vital.

I am not sure how many times I or many, many other Greeks fans must say this, but Angelos Charisteas is not the man to play on the right side of midfield or on the right of a three-pronged attack. Charisteas is a center forward whose main strength is to receive balls in the penalty box. The fact that he is continuosly picked regardless of his poor form or the fact that he is simply not suited to the position he is put in is bewildering to say the least.

Why Not Ninis?

Rehhagel’s substitutions were downright awful. Only Dimitris Salpingidis’s introduction gave any sort of spark. Pantelis Kapetanos was brought on for Charisteas and if yeah you guessed it, the 6ft. 3in Kapetanos, a run-of-the-mill center forward whose only business on the pitch should be to play as a target man and perhaps win some headers in the box was also played on the right. This was puzzling stuff, as was the introduction of Christos Patsatzoglu for Giorgos Karagounis at halftime.

This was a Greek side who was crying out for some life, some dynamism, some creative invention so then why on earth was Sotiris Ninis not brought into the fray? He is young, talented, and has the ability to create chances for the others around him and help the team set a tempo. This was exactly the type of match and situation where he could have given the team a lift. Shame on Rehhagel for not being brave enough to give youthful exuberance and talent a chance.

The Final Analysis

Our overall play was slow, predictable and downright amateurish. The frustrating thing is that this is a team capable of much more. It is now clear that instead of leading Greece to improvement, Rehhagel is keeping the team back. If you don’t know your players by now and who can offer what in what position after 9 years on the job, then thank you for your service, but it’s time for us to head down a new path.

There is a young Greek generation that is bursting with talent with the likes of Ninis, Papastathopoulos, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Konstantinos Mitroglou and others who have either not been given the chance or quite simply not even been picked for this tournament. The preference for older, more experienced players is what helped lead to our demise in 1994 and 16 years later the lesson have not been learned.

This is another World Cup campaign where the potential doesn’t appear to be fulfilled and where the disappointment will be great once again. I wanted performances from this team full of heart and character, where we could build a foundation for future success even if it meant losing. Performances such as this against South Korea take Greek football backwards and the blame ironically goes to the man credited with taking the team forward in the last decade.

Rehhagel made mistakes that any average coach who knew this squad would not have made and in the process has all but finished our World Cup dream so early in the tournament. The Nigeria match now takes on the look of a final for us, however what I saw from Rehhagel and the players over 90 minutes was enough to turn this eternal optimist into the biggest pessimist. I don’t see how there is any way back for us now unless we produce a miracle performance against Nigeria.


Posted by Matt on 06/12/2010

100% correct

Otto has no clue anymore and is embarassing us on the World Stage.

Posted by maguziak on 06/12/2010

I too blame this on Rehhagel.
His selection of players and formation was bad.
His ultra conservative approach no longer works, not in big tournament like the world cup.
Not only did the players not looked prepared, but Rehhagel himself didn't look like he knew what he was doing with substitutions.
Its simple now.
If we play like this, we'll go 0-3.
But if Rehhagel and the team gets something together, we still have the slightest chance of advancing.
Let's not second guess ourselves now, Nigeria is full of talent, but they're not as organized as the Koreans.
We need to get 3 points from them first and then worry about Argentina.

Posted by Gary on 06/12/2010

I'm from over at the Ghana page and i share in your views.

Rehhagel is growing old, methinks. Your players were lazy, did not go in for the 50-50 balls and were so lethargic. I kept wondering if the Euro 2004 spirit had gone with the declining economic situation.


Posted by sds on 06/12/2010

nah the korean team was just better in every aspect. dont think any of those suggestions would have made a difference. could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0.

Posted by gdd on 06/12/2010

I hope Otto reads this. Its great insight. Some points should have been posted before the game. Otto, bring in young hungry talent, not the old men that appeared to be smoking at a cafe instead of playing in their 2nd appearance in a World Cup.

Posted by Sree on 06/12/2010

Ya to be honest all neutrals including me was cheering for koreans . They had better control , WAS PLAYING POSITIVE and taking the game to you grease . Your negative attitude and playing style caused your downfall . You team is set up to defend and hoof it up to some of your tall player and gamble that it will get deflected into net . When you go one down then you cant play because you don't know attacking football which need CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION which you lack . Thought that you will get lucky like in euros . Lightening never strikers twice @ the same place .

Posted by joseph on 06/12/2010

I disagree with 'sds', a fully fit and functioning Greek side with a balance of youth and experience could take on any country and have a shot at beating them. It is true that the manager needs to go - the funny thing is the Greek talent coming out is balanced, we have strong players coming out of all positions...this isnt a time where we only had Machlas, Tsartas and Demis...greek football has changed. And why the hell is karagounis captain, he should be a sub anyway (he has lost his legs).....AND vyntra....even the 'tinikos fans take the piss outta him for no ability to strike or pass a football; vyntra over Papastathopoulos? a young defender who plays in series A italia with at least 10 scouts watching him every league game.I can only say this is the managers fault..and i hate myself for saying it...but it is...

Posted by JDH on 06/12/2010

Agree, was shocked with the exclusion of Papastathopoulos (who has pace, size and ball skills) in the line-up (moreso than Kyrgiakos who has size but no speed), and I don't understand Rehaggel's love affair with Vyntra (who handwrapped the second goal) and Charisteas. Karagounis is not a leader on the field and does not deserve the captain's armband, though I'm not sure who on this team would, no player seemed to lead by example (with the possible exception of Salpingidis when he came on), which is what they had with Zagorakis (who excelled in the role of leading the youth by example) but haven't had since. Enough with the old loyalties!

The only good news was that Nigeria lost, a result against them and maybe, maybe they have a shot for the second round.

Posted by OriginalBomba on 06/12/2010

Tsorvas, Karagounis, Vyntras, Papadopoulos, Samaras and Charisteas should have NEVER started. Instead, start Chalkias, Papastathopoulos, Kyrgiakos, Kapetanos, Ninis, kai Salpingidis. Mas gamises Otto....

Posted by Theo on 06/12/2010

Very well put.

The starting line-up was baffling to say the least, and the choice of substitutions was questionable.

I have a feeling we won't be seeing Ninis playing because he is 20 years old. Too young to play for Otto in the World Cup. I was also shocked to see that Kyrgiakos did not start.

Unless drastic changes are taken, we could have a repeat of 1994. Without scoring even a goal, as much as it pains me to say.

Curious question though, if Otto Rehagel is out, who could be inline to take up his position next?

Btw, great blog, I read every post. Very, very insightful :)

Posted by Mikey on 06/12/2010

I don't think the substitutions would have made much of a difference. Greece is absolutely horrible at coming from behind and were sunk the minute the first goal was made. That being said, it wasn't just Rehhagel's coaching that comes into question; it's the will of the Greek team. South Korea chased down every ball and shut down the passing lanes the Greeks had. Greece needs to be smarter, faster, and more physical. And a wonderful showing by S. Korea also. They fully deserved the 3 points.

Posted by Pim Verbeek on 06/13/2010

Greece are one of the worst sides in the tournament - diabolical. South Korea will be a difficult opposition for anyone in the 2nd round:

Posted by dimitrio212 on 06/13/2010


Posted by chaboom on 06/13/2010

Cha Boom was doing the color commentary for the Korean broadcaster, and he expressed plenty of surprise Greece's starting lineup, saying that "Korea's offense has a chance now." I don't know what was going on, but it seems that Greece made a blunder.

Posted by George Lesses on 06/13/2010

With all due respect to your article, I take the view that Rehagel is only part of the problem. If you want to understand what is wrong with Greece as a country watch the game against South Korea and you will have your answer.

Greece's players are lazy, lack work ethic, do not work for each other and do not how to work as a team. The team's performance is symbolic of the malaise that plagues the country and the saddest part is that the players are content with being in the tournament and making up the numbers.

With regards to Rehagel, the time has come for him to be shown the door. He may have won Euro 2004 but Greece’s glory days have since passed and his sitting on the bench against South Korea and looking totally unphased by the performance of his players speaks volumes. Sadly for Greece and supporters of the Greek National Team, the players have become complacent because they know Rehagel will continue to select them regardless of form. New and young faces to the Greek National Team may lead to the team playing with greater urgency and determination but do not hold your breath because the “Greek way” is tantamount to laziness and taking the easy way out.

Posted by A. Smith on 06/13/2010

S.Korea could have scored 4 or 5 goals. They were surprised by Greece team so weak that they took their finishing lightly. No way Greece could have drawn or win with any configuration of their existing players.

Posted by Anonymous on 06/13/2010

'Amateurish' is correct. Greece wouldn't have won against a 2nd league club today.
But how about those apologies for playing ugly, 'efficient' football that I read on this blog a week ago?
Ugly, unimaginative football is ugly, unimaginative football. Today it was also sloppy. But why only get upset when the result doesn't please?

Posted by joseph on 06/13/2010

mikey..your right the subs don't matter (the damage was already done) but the starting line-up does. Gekas plays well with through balls not diagonals (and he is most likely to score) - he is a poacher. The reason why the team do not play with enthusiasm is because they know the tactics are wrong but dare not argue with the manager because he is 'king otto',instead they argue with each other. A good candidate for the captain is Katsouranis, with some training his experience and ability (+ stamina) would shine (although he received the arm band late in the game - he did actually pick up the performance slightly)..... o, and kapetanos....he could get 90 caps against Andorra and not score... haha Papastathopoulos would have had been a better candidate upfront. on a serious note giving Mitroglou a chance on this squad may have not been such a wild idea - the talent is better than the established players

Posted by jujuminos on 06/13/2010

it wouldn't have mattered who Greece put on the field. The Koreans absolutely dominated the Greece team. The were handling the ball so well and the Greeks were just running around like little kids in the playground not knowing what to do. It should have been 3-0 or 4-0/

Posted by joseph on 06/13/2010

ooooo look at this quote.. Alexandros Tziolis "We didn't play well & we have very few options. There's no other option than to go all out." .....does this mean an attacking greece? an attacking 4-4-2 maybe? ninis and Seitaridis playing off each other on the wing? with gekas making placed shots? probably not but its a nice idea

Posted by Adeel on 06/13/2010

I don't know about greece but one sure thing is that Korea are playing good and which such gameplay you do not know what can be the odds of them reaching the semi's may be. its too early but its not impossible.

Posted by harry on 06/13/2010

Absolutely agree 100%

Vyntra is shit. Where was Kyrgiakos?

Ninnis Should be a starter.

And Charisteas FUCK ME he sucks!!!

Posted by Sotiris on 06/13/2010

It's the manager's job not to start unmotivated players. The players that were dispirited from the start today weren't playing with fire in their belly till Tuesday and suddenly pulled something at Rehaghel..
Katsouranis has been walking on the pitch for his club all the second half of the season..
Seitaridis had problem with injuries all season and was clearly lacking match fitness..
Tziolis has lacked grit in his whole career making himself unable to play without a hard working dm on his side.

That's 3 players that he should know wouldn't play dynamically.. But he doesn't wont to bring in new faces which would be motivated AND start a fire under the complaced players asses..

Him not wanting to play new players expressed itself on replacing Karagounis with Patsatzoglou despite having Ninis on bench who is actually nowadays better than Karagounis.

In the end of the day, time wont go back, and this WC is gone, I hope we wont have Otto at Euro Qualification..

Posted by franga on 06/13/2010

I Agree,Otto's line up and subs were a disgrace. Lets hope he reads your suggestions and does something right against Nigeria!!

Posted by AIRkris on 06/13/2010

Yeah... it's pretty frustrating... after four world cup games, it's played 4 win 0 draw 0 loss 4 and 0 against 10... will they score at least one against either nigeria or argentina?

Posted by embarrased on 06/13/2010

CRITICAL mistakes from a coaching perspective...why not play Kyrgiakos...he plays for one of the best teams in the world and you sit him????

Also...why is Mitroglou not on the team??? No youth on the frontline...He also didnt bring up Pliastikas
who is a speedy right back..

Against Nigeria they are going to need speed...Ninis should start...

Questionable coaching leads to questionable play and alot to be desired...

Posted by Nondas on 06/13/2010

Unfortunately, I agree with George and most of the rest here... The starting eleven choices were laughable. Picking Charisteas to start and not subing in Ninis in the 2nd were the highlights of distaterous Oto managing...
The future looks bleak, but if he takes head out of his ass, and puts in a real squad, we would show a true team that could do the damage necessary against Nigeria. If there are no changes in the lineup that are significant..then dont even bother watching!

Posted by Stavros krekis on 06/13/2010

I'm begging the writer of this blog to somehow get this sent to rehhagel and the Greece team. You work with FIFA right? So please try and get theside to see this, cos they were truly embarassing

Posted by PH on 06/13/2010

Otto is old and beginning to lose it. Starting line up was complete shit. Contrary to what a lot of people think, Greece has a lot of talent, and with the right choice of players they can hold their ground with even the most elite teams. Watching the game vs Korea, you could tell there was tension between the players on the Greek side, and they didn't have any motivation to play. Rehhagel took Greece to record highs but he's 74 now and losing his touch. It's time for a new manager, and time for Greece to give their younger talent a chance to show what they can do. And it's also time for Greece to update it's roster, some players shouldn't even be on the national team since there are more talented ones to take their place.

Posted by Thanasis on 06/13/2010

We are a much better team than the one we were shown to be. Had a shocking game have faith even if we loose the next two games they will play better next game and show why they deserve to be in the world cup....for the blogger who said TSORVAS wasn't good well I'd say you really don't know about goalkeeping thanks to him the score could have been a lot more embarrassing. There will be at least 3 changes for Nigeria game hopefully for the best....Funny enough the Australian coach has almost made the most identical mess up with there crap performance this morning....

Posted by Khairul on 06/14/2010

The greek team looked really nervous but the koreans were brave so that is the reason why they have won comfortably.The problem with greece is that they played long balls too much,expecting the strikers in the penalty box to head the goal to the net.Greece should practice in their short passes and their confidence.Why wasnt Krygiakos in the first 11?Charisteas has lost his spark.Greece lacks flair in their midfield and defence.Although im not a greek,i love the greek football team like it is my own country.I wish that they could im prove their performance against Nigeria and Argentina.

Posted by Alex on 06/14/2010

agree with all of the points made by the author. one name that I am surprised hasn't been brought up is that of giorgios samaras. From before the game started (specifically during the national anthem, when he seemed to be shaking) he looked scared, and that look of fear quickly evolved into him looking like he didn't even want to be on the pitch. there is absolutely no way he should start the nigeria match.

one comment i must make is about vyntra and the rest of the D. They were completely skinned over and over, and no play in the game stood out more than vyntra handing the second goal over. however, while it's very easy after the fact to call rehhagel a moron for not starting kyrgiakos, who is to say that would've ended up any better? if anything, that jackass probably would have found a way to get sent off. The fact of the matter is, the goof by vyntra was huge, but were the final tally 4-0 (which it should have been), we probably wouldn't even be talking about it.

Posted by Milan on 06/14/2010

hello to everyone! I am a half Greek guy living in Budapest, Hungary and it is great to read comments from people from the diaspora in Australia and everywhere. It is a pity though that we had too see such a poor game by the Greeks and such awful lineup and decision by Otto Rehagel.
man, why there is no place for a young, fresh player in the team? to begin with, why Mitroglou and Piastikas are not there??!! and Kapetanos? man, where did they find him?? the biggest problem is that Karagounis is no longer able to organise the game.
we all want Sotiris Ninis to start against Nigeria! that little guy could give the Greeks a new spirit!
I would put Salpingidis in the front and Samaras would sit on the bench! Papastathopoulos to the defence!

I hope that Greece can show the world a better game on Thursday, I will take my flag and support them till the end!!

Posted by Tzoni Sikago on 06/14/2010

Eivai trelos o Germanos!
He's the oldest head coach in WC history.

We need speed, bottom line put the best players on the field. I watched this game and was embaressed.

Need speed up front to produce some scoring opportunities as others said Nini/Gekkas/Salpingidis and a someone to step up and be a leader!!!

Be proud to wear an Ellas uniform.

Posted by Ted on 06/14/2010

were the hell iz amanatidis????...and dellas???...

Posted by George S on 06/14/2010

It is sad to see Ninis and Papastathopoulos on the bench, and Mitroglou back in greece. These are the players that helped get greece to the final of the 2007 U-19 Euro only to lose in the gold medal game to Spain 1-0. That Greek team beat a German side in the semi-finals 3-2 that inlcuded Ozil, Mueller and Marin..YES players that were starting for germany yesterday in their 4-0 romp of Australia. So again why is it that Ninis and Papastathoupoulos are on the bench? Does EPO and Otto not realize that this Greek team have no life or speed?????? It is embarassing and disgusting to watch this team. We have now become the easybeats and the bafoons of the World Cup just like 1994. Is it possible that Otto wants us to lose?? perhaps he will profit from this! you never know! Like the writer of this forum said, Otto its time for you to go!

Posted by Taijin Kyofusho on 06/14/2010

Just to answer a couple of questions Pliatsikas and Amanatidis are both injured and Dellas has a serious lack of games this year

Posted by Arthur Pap on 06/15/2010

malakes....get it in your head...we have no playmakers or any talent...the miracle of 04 we will never see again and this crop of players should be ashamed to wear the jersey..otto should have been gone the minute we failed to qualify for 2006...a nice thank u for 2004 and the MASSIVE miracle u delivered ,but we gotta move save what is left of their WC campaign, he's gotta play the youngsters or the younger and hungrier

Posted by canadian greek on 06/15/2010

I agree with many of the comments posted but believe that things would have worked out differently had Torosidis potted the corner around 4 mins in. Korea seemed quite spotty/nervous at that point and I think the early goal would have unsettled them; set free the ghosts of '94; provided a confidence boost and cooled some of the tempers which flared hours before (Karagounis' early goal in the opener against Portugal in '04 had a similar effect). Of course, the absolute opposite happened....

Yes, we were poor all around, but the chance was there very early on to have made something of this match (even with poor roster selections).

Posted by Rallisopoulos on 06/15/2010

There is 1 thing we can look forward to...and that is the next Euro or World cup...where we will have a new manager hopefully with some better tactics and a new younger faster squad..who can threaten from anywhere on the field..or at least be competitive and no so embarrassing

Posted by Mike Ditkopoulos on 06/15/2010

I agree Otto shares some of the blame (obviously), but the Greek players almost looked like they were hung over (read lack of discipline) and really not interested in being there (I heard someone say bouzoukia). Regardless of initial strategy, adjustments on the field are made and talented and passionate players find a way to win. Unfortunately Greek Football does not encourage playmaking, speed, and most importantly PHYSICAL CONDITIONING. For the level these guys are playing they are physically pathetic. Most of all, the Greek psychology is so fearful and negative that they can never succeed in the face of adversity. None of these issues can be fixed for this Cup except psychology. The only thing left is to put the best players we have on the field, watch 300 12 times, blood dope (just kidding), go balls to the wall and try to rip everyone a new asshole (figuratively speaking).

Posted by Nikos Nikolaidhs on 06/15/2010

Rehhagel made mistakes but it was the players' mistakes that decided the game. First of all, the first Korean goal was the keeper's mistake since even a two years old knows that at a corner kick, to place a defender on the second post is an elementary responsibility of the keeper. Secondly, Kyrgiakos correctly did not play, because he is not as fast as the smaller size Korean forwards. The second goal was also a lame mistake by one of our defenders. It is the general mentality of our players that is the problem. We lack sports discipline, a base to build ok football with the ball down. Hence we lost concentration after the first goal trying to reach our short forwards with high balls. It was not only impossible. It was weird ...

Posted by Dimi on 06/17/2010

No Kyrgiakos and Charisteas still in the team? How do you expect to win games...

Seriously PLAY Ninis and select Mitroglou, what is this embaressing team were putting out

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