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Greece and Croatia prepare for decisive duel

Published: Tuesday 4 October 2011, 16.10CET
Greece and Croatia meet at the Group F summit with Slaven Bilić's side needing victory to book their finals place, while the hosts must avoid defeat to stay in contention for top spot.
Greece and Croatia prepare for decisive duel
Croatia celebrate after beating Israel knowing that a win against Greece will book their place ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 4 October 2011, 16.10CET

Greece and Croatia prepare for decisive duel

Greece and Croatia meet at the Group F summit with Slaven Bilić's side needing victory to book their finals place, while the hosts must avoid defeat to stay in contention for top spot.

Greece host Croatia in a crucial match at the top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F. The visitors can book their place at next summer's finals and condemn the hosts to the play-offs with victory in Piraeus but, if Greece claim maximum points, they will go into the final set of fixtures with their destiny in their own hands.

7 October: Latvia v Malta, Greece v Croatia

11 October: Croatia v Latvia, Georgia v Greece, Malta v Israel

Latest standings

Croatia (19 points)
Mladen Petrić and Danijel Pranjić are not included in Slaven Bilić's 24-man squad, while injured midfielder Ivo Iličević and suspended captain Darijo Srna will also miss the crucial match in Greece on 7 October. "We are expecting to finish in the position we wanted, but we know it will be difficult in the last two matches," said Bilić. "We will do everything to return from Greece as the top side in our group."

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (FC Rostov), Danijel Subašić (HNK Hajduk Split), Ivan Kelava (GNK Dinamo Zagreb).

Defenders: Vedran Ćorluka (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Josip Šimunić (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Dejan Lovren (Olympique Lyonnais), Ivan Strinić (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt), Darijo Srna (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Šime Vrsaljko (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Domagoj Vida (GNK Dinamo Zagreb).

Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Niko Kranjčar (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Milan Badelj (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Ognjen Vukojević (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Tomislav Dujmović (FC Dinamo Moskva), Ivan Perišić (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitić (Sevilla FC), Mato Jajalo (1. FC Köln).

Forwards: Eduardo (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Mario Mandžukić (VfL Wolfsburg), Nikola Kalinić (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Nikica Jelavić (Rangers FC), Ivan Klasnić (Bolton Wanderers FC).

Greece (18 pts)
Three players make notable returns to the international stage in Fernando Santos's latest selection. Angelos Charisteas makes his comeback having been out of consideration since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while fellow striker Fanis Gekas is also back in the fold almost a year after announcing his international retirement. "I believe it's a sign of bravery to recognise one's mistakes," he said.

Also back is 34-year-old goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis, who returns for the first time since winning his one and only cap in November 2002. However, Santos is without Sotiris Ninis, Giannis Fetfatzidis, Pantelis Kafes, Giannis Maniatis and Michalis Sifakis.

Goalkeepers: Alexandros Tzorvas (US Città di Palermo), Dionisis Chiotis (APOEL FC).

Defenders: Loukas Vyntra (Panathinaikos FC), Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos FC), Nikos Spyropoulos (Panathinaikos FC), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (SV Werder Bremen), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke 04)¹, Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos FC), Giannis Zaradoukas (Olympiacos Volou FC).

Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK FC), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens FC), Thanos Petsos (1. FC Kaiserlautern), Alexandros Tziolis (Real Racing Club), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna FC).

Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Stefanos Athanasiadis (PAOK FC), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic FC), Angelos Charisteas (Panaitolikos GFS), Fanis Gekas (Eintracht Frankfurt).

¹Georgia game only

Israel (13 pts)
Israel complete their qualifying campaign without West Ham United FC defender Tal Ben Haim, Eran Zahavi and Omri Ben Harush who are suspended. There is no place in Luis Fernandez's 21-man squad for captain Yossi Benayoun who continues his recovery from injury. "It is mighty important that we beat Malta," said Fernandez. "Croatia and Greece could be the top sides but to finish in third spot is not that bad after all."

Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (RCD Mallorca), Ariel Harosh (Beitar Jerusalem FC), Guy Haimov (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC).

Defenders: Dani Bondarv (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Dor Malul (K. Beerschot AC), Rami Gershon (KV Kortrijk), Taleb Tawatha (Maccabi Haifa FC), Itzik Cohen (Maccabi Haifa FC).

Midfielders: Bebras Natcho (FC Rubin Kazan), Lior Rafaelov (Club Brugge KV), Maor Buzaglo (R. Standard de Liège), Gil Vermouth (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Beram Kayal (Celtic FC), Almog Cohen (1. FC Nürnberg), Nir Biton (FC Ashdod), Eyal Golasa (Maccabi Haifa FC).

Forwards: Tomer Hemed (RCD Mallorca), Elyaniv Barda (KRC Genk), Dudu Biton (Wisła Kraków), Omer Damari (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Tal Ben Haim (Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC).

Georgia (10 pts)
Temuri Ketsbaia has called up FC Dinamo Tbilisi captain Alexandre Koshkadze and Irakli Maisuradze to replace David Devderiani and Alexander Kobakhidze who are injured. Maisuradze and goalkeeper Konstantin Sepiashvili are in line to make their international debuts as Georgia conclude their campaign at home to Greece. "We don't care what Greece's goals are, we only care about our own needs," said Ketsbaia. "We're playing our last game at home so we want to end campaign with a victory despite having no chance of qualifying."

Goalkeepers: Nukri Revishvili (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Roin Kvaskhvadze (FC Zestafoni), Konstantin Sepiashvili (FC Gagra).

Defenders: Kakha Kaladze (Genoa CFC), Zurab Khizanishvili (Kayserispor), Aleksandr Amisulashvili (FC Krasnodar), Gia Grigalava (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Guram Kashia (Vitesse), Akaki Khubutia (Samsunspor), Ucha Lobzhanidze (FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih), Aleksandre Kvakhadze (FC Metalurgi Rustavi).

Midfielders: Murtaz Daushvili (FC Zestafoni), Jaba Kankava (FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih), David Targamadze (PFC Oleksandria), Levan Kobiashvili (Hertha BSC Berlin), Alexander Guruli (FC Karpaty Lviv), Shota Grigalashvili (FC Zestafoni), Alexandre Koshkadze (FC Dinamo Tbilisi), Irakli Maisuradze (FC Metalurgi Rustavi).

Forwards: Aleksandr Iashvili (Karlsruher SC), Vladimir Dvalishvili (Maccabi Haifa FC), Otar Martsvaladze (FC Krasnodar), Levan Mchedlidze (Empoli FC).

Latvia (8 pts)
RTS Widzew Łódź midfielder Jurijs Žigajevs will miss Latvia's final UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers after being ruled out for up to six months with a knee injury. Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs has called on 116-times capped Andrejs Rubins to fill the gap in his 20-man squad. "Our recent match against Greece [a 1-1 draw in Riga on 6 September] gave us reason for optimism," Starkovs told "We need to maintain this attitude and try to get positive results, though I'm sure these matches will be very tough."

Goalkeepers: Andris Vaņins (FC Sion), Pavels Doroševs (Qäbälä FK), Germans Māliņš (Skonto FC).

Defenders: Kaspars Gorkšs (Reading FC), Deniss Ivanovs (Bakı FK), Ritus Krjauklis (Olimpik-Şüvälan PVK), Oskars Kļava (FC Khimki), Pāvels Mihadjuks (SK Liepājas Metalurgs).

Midfielders: Ivans Lukjanovs (KS Lechia Gdańsk), Aleksandrs Cauņa (PFC CSKA Moskva), Aleksandrs Fertovs (Skonto FC), Aleksejs Višņakovs (MKS Cracovia Kraków), Ritvars Rugins (FK Ventspils), Oļegs Laizāns (FK Ventspils), Andrejs Rubins (Simurq PFK), Artis Lazdiņš (FK Jelgava).

Forwards: Māris Verpakovskis (Bakı FK), Artjoms Rudņevs (KKS Lech Poznań), Edgars Gauračs (FC Enisey Krasnoyarsk), Andrejs Perepļotkins (Nasaf Qarshi FC).

Malta (1 pt)
Goalkeeper Justin Haber is back in for Malta's final UEFA EURO 2012 matches against Latvia and Israel after a calf injury kept him out of last month's home qualifiers against Croatia and Georgia, but the major blow for coach John Buttigieg are hamstring injuries to Michael Mifsud and Daniel Bogdanovic, which will definitely keep them out of the trip to Latvia.

Malta captain Mifsud, who has scored four goals in his last three matches for Malta, has just begun light training whilst 31-year-old Bogdanovic is hopeful of featuring in Tuesday's home qualifier against Israel. Fellow hamstring victim Jonathan Caruana, the Valletta FC defender, is the most likely of the three to make the Israel match.

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

Defenders: Roderick Briffa (Valletta FC), Edward Herrera (Hibernians FC), Carlo Mamo (Marsaxlokk FC), Clayton Failla (Hibernians FC), Andrei Agius (Latina Calcio), Steve Borg (Valletta FC), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara FC), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta FC).

Midfielders: Paul Fenech (Birkirkara FC), John Hutchinson (Chengdu Blades FC), Jamie Pace (Valletta FC), Ryan Fenech (Valletta FC), Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara FC), Trevor Cilia (Birkirkara FC).

Forwards: Ivan Woods (Floriana FC), Andre Schembri (Panionios GSS), Andrew Cohen (Hibernians FC).

Last updated: 05/10/11 11.00CET

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