Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has said his men will play like heroes when they take on France in Friday's quarter-final at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.
'Fall like heroes'
"Against Russia we were stressed because we knew that qualification depended on the result. Tomorrow we will enjoy the match and even if we lose, my players will fall like heroes," Rehhagel insisted at a press conference on Thursday as his side look to bounce back from Sunday's nervy 2-1 defeat by Russia that almost cost Greece a place in the last eight.
Greece finished second behind Portugal in Group A, eliminating Spain in the process, to fulfil Rehhagel's dream of reaching the quarter-finals. But the 63-year-old said he was not surprised by their progress. "There are always surprises in tournaments and this time it is us," he said.
Against the holders, he added, Greece will have to be at their best. "We have to be fully concentrated as we are playing against the European champions," he said. "Some of the French players have also won the UEFA Champions League. They are exceptional in all areas and are in their prime. It's up to us to do the best we can and prove why we reached the quarter-finals."
Greece are expected to revert to their more familiar 4-4-2 formation after playing three strikers in the loss to Russia. Rehhagel will be without suspended striker Zisis Vryzas, who collected his second yellow card of the tournament on Sunday, and is expected to pair Angelos Charisteas with Themistoklis Nikolaidis or Dimitrios Papadopoulos in attack.
Doubts remain over Stylianos Giannakopoulos because of a nagging calf injury, but Rehhagel welcomes back FC Internazionale midfield player Georgios Karagounis who served a one-match ban against Russia. "We will know if Giannakopoulos can play tonight after training," Rehhagel said.
Karagounis free role
In midfield, Konstantinos Katsouranis is expected to operate behind AEK Athens FC team-mates Theodoros Zagorakis and Vassilios Tsiartas, while Karagounis should add some creativity in a free role.
No major changes are expected at the back as Traianos Dellas and Mihalis Kapsis have, so far, played a key role in the Greek campaign. The same holds true for Giourkas Seitaridis on the right side of defence. Panagiotis Fyssas and Stylianos Venetidis are battling for the left-back position.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.