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Greece draw inspiration from 2004 Euro title

DEREK GATOPOULOS
Last updated 13:02 22/06/2012

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Faced with another "David vs. Goliath" scenario, Greece will play Germany in a European Championship quarterfinal without the heart of the team. Instead, the Greeks will draw inspiration from the winning side at Euro 2004.

Captain Giorgos Karagounis, whose goal against Russia sealed Greece's place in the last eight, is suspended for tomorrow's match in Gdansk. Midfielder Grigoris Makos is his likely replacement, while the captain's armband will be passed to team veteran Costas Katsouranis.

"We'll miss Giorgos tomorrow," Greece striker Fanis Gekas said Thursday. "He's the heart of the team. We'll have to close ranks to win."

But that's nothing new to a defensive-minded Greece, which will be underdogs against Germany - the only team to win all three group matches at Euro 2012.

"If you look at it as a contest between David vs. Goliath, that's good, because David won," Greece coach Fernando Santos said.

Santos, who was working as a TV commentator in his native Portugal when Greece won Euro 2004, said he was inspired by that team's determination.

"The tenacity they showed spurs us on," he said. "I think all the coaches at this tournament have the image of being in the final in their head. Me too. If I didn't, I might as well be thinking about going on holiday or going fishing."

But Santos acknowledged that Germany has few weak points and praised Germany coach Joachim Loew, saying he has done a great job bringing through young players who have now developed into world-class performers.

Santos rejected speculation that his defenders would man-mark playmaker Mesut Oezil or other German stars, but indicated he would try and disrupt his opponent's flowing game - a tactic that brought the Greeks an 1-0 upset victory in their last group game against Russia.

Santos gave up his default 4-3-3 formation against the fast-paced Russians, opting for a stifling 4-2-3-1, which left Gekas as the lone striker and pushed forwards Georgios Samaras and Dimitris Salpigidis to the wings.

"We're not playing man-to-man, that's an outdated way of playing," Santos said. "It was good 40 years ago, maybe. When I was a player, the coach would tell me not to let a key opponent out of my sight, to follow him to the bathroom if I had to. We don't do that any more."

Germany breezed through Group B with victories over Denmark, Netherlands and Portugal.

"We know the Germans well and how strong they are," Gekas said. "The Germans are the favorites, but they also have to prove it on the pitch for 90 or 120 minutes."

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- AP

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