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Chalkias and Tzavellas want Greece repeat

Kostas Chalkias is one of three UEFA EURO 2004 winners in the Greece squad and sees a continuity from eight years ago while Giorgos Tzavellas hopes to "spoil the hosts' party" again.

Kostas Chalkias addresses the media
Kostas Chalkias addresses the media ©Getty Images

Three UEFA EURO 2004 winners – Giorgos Karagounis, Kostas Katsouranis and Kostas Chalkias – are aiming to repeat the trick with Greece this summer so it is hardly surprising that when it is their turn to address the media, talk turns to the sensational events eight years ago in Portugal.

Chalkias was among those present at Greece's first press conference after their arrival at their Legionowo base in Poland, and he was inevitably asked to compare Fernando Santos's selection to Otto Rehhagel's champions. "In the last decade the Greek national squad have achieved many things and have reached the final stages of major competitions," the 38-year-old goalkeeper said. "This is a team that are constantly improving, evolving and have the resources for a great future. That's why I don't like comparing generations. I see a continuity instead."

The 2004 tournament began with victory against hosts Portugal and Greece again open the finals against a home nation this time around, meeting Poland in Warsaw on Friday. Chalkias, on the bench eight years back, said: "The first match in a competition is always decisive. It sets the tone for the remainder of the tournament."

Left-back Giorgos Tzavellas, at his first major tournament, is taking heart from his predecessors' feats. "The Poland squad will be feeling pressure because they will play before their home crowd. We are not arrogant, we respect every opponent we come up against, but at the same time we have nothing to fear. Greece spoiled the hosts' party once before, eight years ago, and I hope that we will do it again."

Another rookie at this level, Giannis Maniatis, is loving it. "I wanted so much to be part of this squad and it will be the biggest stage on which I've ever played football," said the converted right-back, who inspired Olympiacos FC to the title in a new midfield role. "It's been a memorable season for me. I will continue working with the same dedication as always."

Like the team that went to Portugal, this Greece side are tough in defence, and Maniatis explains: "We have conceded few goals, but the credit for that goes to all three lines, not just the defence." And Tzavellas added: "Our hope is to have the whole squad fit, to continue playing well in defence and to improve our attacking game. If we manage to do that, we will be on the right track."

He has got his first wish so far. The whole squad is fit, as Vassilis Torossidis resumed full training on Monday having recovered from a kneecap injury he  sustained on 26 May in the friendly against Slovenia.