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Greece look to make home advantage count

Published: Tuesday 31 May 2011, 17.00CET
Greece can maintain their lead at the top when they welcome Malta while Croatia will look to avenge March's defeat by Georgia and Israel travel to Lativa in the latest round of Group F games.
Greece look to make home advantage count
Greece players celebrate a last-minute winner against Malta last time out ©Domenic Aquilina
Published: Tuesday 31 May 2011, 17.00CET

Greece look to make home advantage count

Greece can maintain their lead at the top when they welcome Malta while Croatia will look to avenge March's defeat by Georgia and Israel travel to Lativa in the latest round of Group F games.

Greece will look to consolidate their advantage at the top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F when they host struggling Malta, while second-placed Croatia will be eager to avenge a shock defeat by Georgia last time out when they welcome Temuri Ketsbaia's men to Split. Israel can maintain their push for qualifcation in Latvia.

3 June: Croatia v Georgia
4 June: Latvia v Israel, Greece v Malta

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Croatia coach Slaven Bilić's 24-man squad includes first call-ups for HNK Hajduk Split's 20-year-old striker Ante Vukušić and Kardemir Karabükspor goalkeper Vjekoslav Tomić, while VfL Wolfsburg's in-form forward Mario Mandžukić also gets the nod. "We recognised Vukušić's quality and he deserved this call," said Bilić. "We know all about Georgia and in front of our own fans we will achieve a victory that will put our minds at ease over the summer."

Goalkeepers: Vedran Runje (RC Lens), Stipe Pletikosa (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Vjekoslav Tomić (Kardemir Karabükspor).

Defenders: Darijo Srna (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Šime Vrsaljko (NK Dinamo Zagreb), Vedran Ćorluka (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Josip Šimunić (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Dejan Lovren (Olympique Lyonnais), Gordon Schildenfeld (SK Sturm Graz), Danijel Pranjić (FC Bayern München), Manuel Pamić (AC Sparta Praha), Domagoj Vida (Bayer 04 Leverkusen).

Midfielders: Ognjen Vukojević (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Tomislav Dujmović (FC Dinamo Moskva), Luka Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Milan Badelj (NK Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Perišić (Club Brugge KV), Drago Gabrić (MKE Ankaragücü).

Forwards: Mladen Petrić (Hamburger SV), Eduardo (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikola Kalinić (Blackburn Rovers FC), Nikica Jelavić (Rangers FC), Ante Vukušić (HNK Hajduk Split), Mario Mandžukić (VfL Wolfsburg).

Central defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has received his first call-up after reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals with FC Schalke 04, with 22-year-old striker Stefanos Athanasiadis selected for the first time in the absence of Celtic FC's Giorgos Samaras. Forward Nikos Liberopoulos and goalkeepers Alexandros Tzorvas, Kostas Chalkias and Michalis Sifakis also have injury issues, meaning Dimitris Konstantopoulos will most likely make his first senior appearance between the posts against Malta. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Giorgos Tzavellas are suspended.

Goalkeepers: Dimitris Konstantopoulos (Kerkyra FC), Stefanos Kotsolis (Panathinaikos FC).

Defenders: Loukas Vyntra (Panathinaikos FC), Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos FC), Vangelis Moras (Bologna FC), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke 04), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos FC), Nikos Spyropoulos (Panathinaikos FC).

Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Real Racing Club), Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Pantelis Kafes (AEK FC), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK FC), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos FC), Panagiotis Kone (Brescia Calcio), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiacos FC).

Forwards: Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Panathinaikos FC), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Kostas Mitroglou (Olympiacos FC), Stefanos Athanasiadis (PAOK FC).

Ketsbaia has named six uncapped players in his 31-man squad: Ardalion Mikaberidze, George Rekhviashvili, Irakli Maisuradze, Tornike Gorgiashvili, the Azerbaijani Premier League's 18-goal leading scorer Giorgi Adamia and Gia Grigalava. Grigalava has been included despite having played once for Russia Under-21s in June 2009. Ketsbaia's side warmed up with a friendly against Georgia's U21s on 27 May.

Goalkeepers: Nukri Revishvili (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Giorgi Loria (FC Dinamo Tbilisi), Roin Kvaskhvadze (FC Zestafoni), Ardalion Mikaberidze (FC WIT Georgia).

Defenders: Kakha Kaladze (Genoa CFC), Aleksandr Amisulashvili (FC Krasnodar), Lasha Salukvadze (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Akaki Khubutia (CS Gaz Metan Mediaş), Zurab Khizanishvili (Reading FC), Ucha Libzhanidze (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Guram Kashia (Vitesse), Giorgi Khidesheli (FC Zestafoni), Kakhaber Aladashvili (FC Zestafoni), George Rekhviashvili (FC Olimpi Rustavi), Gia Grigalava (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod).

Midfielders: Gocha Khojava (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Murtaz Daushvili (FC Zestafoni), Jaba Kankava (FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih), Jano Ananidze (FC Spartak Moskva), Alexander Guruli (FC Karpaty Lviv), David Kvirkvelia (Panionios GSS), Tornike Gorgiashvili (FC Zestafoni), Irakli Maisuradze (FC Olimpi Rustavi).

Forwards: Aleksandr Iashvili (Karlsruher SC), Mate Vatsadze (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod), David Siradze (PFC Spartak Nalchik), Nikoloz Gelashvili (FC Zestafoni), Vladimir Dvalishvili (Maccabi Haifa FC), Jaba Lipartia (FC Zorya Luhansk), Irakli Modebadze (FC Olimpi Rustavi), Giorgi Adamia (Qarabağ FK).

Maor Melikson's performances for Wisła Kraków have earned the 26-year-old the chance to win his second cap against Latvia on 4 June. The former Hapoel Beer Sheva FC midfielder, who joined the Ekstraklasa side in January, scored the winning goal against MKS Cracovia Kraków to clinch the league title. There are first-time call-ups for Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC goalkeeper Guy Haimov and striker Tomer Hemmed, whose 13 league goals helped Maccabi Haifa FC win the title in Israel.

Hemmed was selected instead of the league's top goalscorer Toto Tamuz. Israel are without the injured Celtic FC midfielder Beram Kayal, KRC Genk striker Elyaniv Barda, Gil Vermouth and Etey Schechter. "This is one of the most difficult matches," said coach Luis Fernández. "We need to come back from there with a result to get us back in the race for at least the play-offs."

Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (RCD Mallorca), Dudu Goresh (Hapoel Akko FC), Guy Haimov (Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC).

Defenders: Yoav Ziv (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC), Dekel Keinan (Cardiff City FC), Yuval Shpungin (AC Omonia), Rami Gershon (KV Kortrijk), Tal Ben Haim I (Portsmouth FC), Talb Twatcha (Maccabi Haifa FC), Itzik Cohen (Hapoel Akko FC).

Midfielders: Almog Cohen (1. FC Nürnberg), Bebras Natcho (FC Rubin Kazan), Lior Rafaelov (Maccabi Haifa FC), Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea FC), Eyal Golasa (Maccabi Haifa FC), Maor Melichson (Wisła Kraków), Gal Alberman (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC), Eran Zahavi (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Maor Buzaglo (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC).

Forwards: Tomer Hemmed (Maccabi Haifa FC), Omer Damari (Maccabi Petach Tikva FC), Tal Ben Haim II (Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC), Ben Sahar (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC).

Aleksandrs Starkovs hopes a blend of youth and experience can lift his side after a poor start to Group F. "We're not in the best position," the coach conceded ahead of Israel's visit. "We've called up some experienced players along with some newcomers and some return to the national team after lengthy absences." Edgars Gauračs, 23, is in line for his senior international debut and Aleksandrs Cauņa is included despite a lack of fitness following injury.

Goalkeepers: Andris Vaņins (FC Sion), Aleksandrs Koliņko (FC Baltika Kaliningrad), Deniss Romanovs (Cendrawasih Papua FC).

Defenders: Oskars Kļava (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Kaspars Gorkšs (Queens Park Rangers FC), Deniss Ivanos (Sivasspor), Ritus Krjauklis (Olimpik-Şüvälan PFK), Deniss Kačanovs (Skonto FC), Vladimir Bespalovs (FK Ventspils), Igors Savčenkovs (FK Ventspils), Pāvels Mihadjuks (FK Ventspils).

Midfielders: Maksims Rafaļskis (FC Baltika Kaliningrad), Jurijs Žigajevs (RTS Widzew Łódź), Aleksejs Višņakovs (MKS Cracovia Kraków), Andrejs Rubins (FK Qarabağ), Aleksandrs Cauņa (PFC CSKA Moskva), Andrejs Perepļotkins (Nasaf Qarshi), Ivans Lukjanovs (KS Lechia Gdańsk), Artis Lazdiņš (FK Jelgava), Pāvels Mihadjuks (FK Ventspils), Igors Tarasovs (Skonto FC).

Forwards: Māris Verpakovskis (Ergotelis FC), Artjoms Rudņevs (Lech Poznań), Edgars Gauračs (FC Enisey Krasnoyarsk), Daniils Turkovs (Zalaegerszegi TE).

Malta go into the match against Greece buoyed by their resilient and determined performance against the section leaders last time out. Ivan Woods is the only addition to a squad which succumbed to Vassilis Torossidis's last-gasp winner in Ta' Qali on 26 March, but coach John Buttigieg is well aware of the threat Greece pose. "It is common logic to say this is a very difficult match," said Buttigieg. "I hope we put up the same positive performance we displayed at the end of March when we lost in the dying seconds of the match."

Goalkeepers: Andrew Hogg (Valletta FC), Justin Haber (Ferencvárosi TC).

Defenders: André Agius (Birkirkara FC), Shaun Bajada (Birkirkara FC), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta FC), Edward Herrera (Hibernians FC), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara FC).

Midfielders: Roderick Briffa (Valletta FC), Clayton Failla (Sliema Wanderers FC), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara FC), Ryan Fenech (Valletta FC), John Hutchison (Central Coast Mariners), Gareth Sciberras (Marsaxlokk FC).

Forwards: Daniel Bogdanovic (Sheffield United FC), Andrew Cohen (Hibernians FC), Michael Mifsud (Qormi FC), André Schembri (Ferencvárosi TC), Ivan Woods (Floriana FC).

Players in italics have withdrawn.
*Denotes replacement player.

Last updated: 02/06/11 11.25CET

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