It is eight years since the Greeks reigned supreme in European football. No one backed them to perform at Euro 2004 in Portugal but somehow the 35th ranked team in the World overcame everyone in their way to be crowned shock winners.
Since their success in Portugal though, the Greeks have failed to build on their successes. They failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2006, went out in the first round of Euro 2008, scoring just one goal and went out in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup, having scraped through a play off with the Ukraine to be there in the first place.
After 8 disappointing years they feel that now is their time to return to at the very least a competitive level in the upcoming tournament. They impressed in qualifying, going undefeated and finishing ahead of Croatia. They are in what is seen as the easiest group of the tournament alongside Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic, though they will face either Cesc Fabregas’s Spain or Wayne Rooney’s England if they make it out of the Group stages.
Fernando Santos has many similarities to the man who led the Greeks in 2004, Otto Rehhagel. He too is not a Greek national and he builds from the back, giving his side the strong defensive base that lead them to that famous campaign of 2004. His squad is rich in experience with veterans who’ve been there and done it for Greece being favoured over a string of up and coming stars of the Greek game.
Whilst there aren’t many who were around in 2004 the side has a similar feel to that of the 2004 set up. The Greeks are desperate for something to celebrate with their country on the brink of bankruptcy the chance to celebrate sporting achievements again could give their country the moral boost it so needs. The dream is clear, they want to replicate what happened in 2004 and bring Greece another shock European success story.