Greece may have only one point from two games, but with victory in their final fixture certain to secure a quarter-final spot, Fernando Santos is backing his team to come good when it matters.
Russia are Greece's last Group A opponents, and both sides know progress in UEFA EURO 2012 is in their own hands. Santos, speaking the day after Greece were beaten 2-1 by the Czech Republic in Wroclaw, said: "
It's a final for both of us. We are going after one result; our rivals can go through with a draw."
The Portuguese coach pointed out that Greece have been in tight spots before and pulled through. "My faith in my team is total," he added. "It's the same faith I had back in the autumn after our draw in Latvia. Back then it was tense and we needed a victory against Croatia to have any chance of qualifying. I believed in that team, I said so, and afterwards I was vindicated. I am saying the same now."
Santos believes the Czech defeat must be forgotten if the 2004 champions are to avoid an early exit from the tournament. "We must leave it all behind us. We must take all our passion onto the pitch and I am sure we will make the Greek fans happy." To achieve that, however, Santos agreed that one worrying trend needs to be addressed.
In both games, Greece have conceded early – with the Czech Republic two up inside six minutes yesterday. "It is something I find hard to understand," Santos said. "Our preparation has been spot on and the players are motivated. However, we have ended up chasing games. We managed to equalise in our first match, but could not do the same against the Czech Republic.
"The only thing I can do is point out the mistakes to the players, but they are perfectly aware. I am sure that they will show more intensity in the next match and everything will go fine." The 57-year-old coach defended his team selection thus far. "When we lose, it's said that the best players are the ones who did not play."
Nonetheless, Santos did hint he may mix things up for Saturday's decisive contest. "I am considering some changes to the lineup as I am looking for quick thinking when in possession and pressure when we're not. We will evaluate our players and their form, as some have played 180 minutes so far and we'll decide from there."
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