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Unity key to Greek recovery

Central defender Traianos Dellas insists that Greece can still "achieve great things" as they attempt to put their defeat by Sweden behind them against Russia .

Greece must stick together, says Traianos Dellas
Greece must stick together, says Traianos Dellas ©Getty Images

Greece defender Traianos Dellas insists the European champions can still "achieve great things" as they attempt to put the defeat by Sweden behind them against Russia in Salzburg on Saturday.

Demise exaggerated
With both sides reeling from first-day defeats, the stakes have been raised an extra notch ahead of the Group D meeting at the Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim. Defeat for either team would leave them on the brink of elimination. Dellas believes reports of a Greek demise are exaggerated, however. "This team has potential, it can achieve great things," said the AEK Athens FC centre-back. "But we are not invincible – no team is. There are always matches you can lose. We have spoiled our fans, they are used to us winning. That doesn't change our point of view, though, because we are still focused on the job at hand. Don't forget that we are among the 16 best teams in Europe."

Unfair criticism
Otto Rehhagel's side will need to show the form of champions if they are to revive their ambitions against the Russians. After going down to Sweden on Tuesday, the Blue and Whites came in for intense criticism from the media for a perceived defensive-minded approach. "It's unfair on us, who have brought the team to such great heights, to focus only on negatives such as what is being said or written by journalists," said the towering 32-year-old. "We lost our first encounter and there's a very tough match ahead. We will try to win in order to improve our qualifying chances."

Unity the key
Greece were rank outsiders at 100-1 in Portugal four years ago, and their success in shocking Europe and clinching the title was largely down to the desire and commitment of a group who played for each other. Dellas says this unity is the vital ingredient that can turn around their fortunes. "This team has a great asset – its unity – the players stick together," Dellas said. "The fans should be proud of this Greece squad because it is up to eighth place in the world rankings. This is very important for us and for securing our future in the tournament."