Thursday 22 February 2018

Greece boss braced for 'competitive friendly' against fighting Irish

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

GREECE was the word for Giovanni Trapattoni early on in his tenure as Ireland manager and tonight the Italian gets to look at his blueprint at close quarters.

The 2004 triumph of Otto Rehhegal and his team is something that the Italian has pointed to as an example that we in this country can aspire to and cited their direct approach and defensive outlook as a model to follow.

Since then, the Greeks have consistently competed at the top table without ever really inspiring any excitement, something that can be seen by the sluggish ticket sales for tonight's game.

Fernando Santos took over from the German three years ago and oversaw their passage out of the group stages at last summer's European Championships. The Greeks lost to Germany, but unlike Ireland's insipid submission last month, they at least gave Joachim Loew's team a scare.


Now they are in flying form as they look to qualify for the World Cup in 2014, are up to 12th in the FIFA world rankings and will blood some new players tonight.

"Otto Rehhegal wrote a great chapter in the history of European football," the Portuguese manager said. "There are similarities in our teams, there is realism in our games, we know our strengths and we know what we are not so good at and we try and be better.

"The difference is all the differences you can expect from a German football man and a Portuguese."

Santos believes that Ireland's record defeat to the Germans was a freak result and believes that, as friendlies go, tonight's clash will be a tough game.

"I believe that the victory for Germany over Ireland was abnormal, not regular," he said at a Lansdowne Road press conference before taking training on the pitch last night.

"I cannot compare these two results because the characteristic of the Irish team is that they fight, they have great passion and are motivated by the supporters. The characteristics of the team are matched very well with the coach.

"I think that it will be a game between two strong teams. (Their) characteristics are very similar (to) ours; they are a strong team, who never quit. That is what we expect between two very good teams.

"There are some friendlies that are friendly, some are more competitive. This will be more competitive."

Irish Independent

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