Greeks are batshit crazy for soccer. An estimated 5% of their GDP goes towards soccer betting. Their hooligans are crazy, even for hooligans. To the point that many Greek stadiums feature stone seating because fans at their domestic cup final in 1995 smashed and burned 12,000 seats. These are the same fans who laced opponents’ water jugs with psychiatric drugs five years ago and the same fans who poured nails on the field before a big match- how that helps the home team is beyond me. Bottom line- supporters for this team are far more Gangs of New York than Green Street Hooligans. However, the paradox is that their national team isn’t very good. In fact, the next goal they score at the World Cup will be their first. Yes, their play during qualification was good enough that the Grecians earned (GET IT) a spot in the tournament, but trust me- a single goal in South Africa might mean a successful World Cup.
The one thing you need to know about Greece is how they pulled off one of the most shocking Cinderella stories in soccer history when they won the Euro 2004. This feat was accomplished through mind-numbingly boring play, nearly no offense, and frustrating defense- like the Italians Catenaccio if played by geriatric all-stars. Because that tournament brought them the crowning achievement in an otherwise humble history, they continue to replicate that style of play, only with less capable personnel.
Nickname: After the Euro victory, they were nicknamed The Pirate Ship for their ability to steal victories from more talented opponents.
Best Player: Otto Gehhagel, he’s actually the coach, but he unseated Zeus himself after ’04 and is still known as King Otto for his leadership.
Outlook: It’s pretty simple for this team: will they be able to get a goal or two against Nigeria and Korea? If strikers Theofanis Gekas (Hertha Berlin) and the 6’4″ Georgios Samaras (Celtic) can manufacture a couple goals, they’ll forever become Titans in the eyes of Greek fans.
Defensively, this team will be a tough nut to crack. They’ll lock down the opposition by keeping as many players back defensively as possible. They have a pair of excellent central defenders in Serie A colleagues Sokratis Papastathopolous and Vangelis Moras as well as fullbacks Sotiros Kyrgiakos (Liverpool) and Vasilis Torisidis (Olympiacos).
Most Famous Citizen: Achilles. It was between him or Zach Galifinakis. Technically, Galifinakis was born in America, but technically Achilles was born to a nymph somewhere near the river Styx so who the hell knows. Either way, Achilles moved to Greece when he was young and started slaying enemies, women and mythological beasts at an awe-inducing rate. Of course, it must be noted that I base my entire perception of Achilles on Brad Pitt in Troy, who is the prototype by which all badass sword-wielding movie characters are judged. I think I would take Achilles in a fight against any character in any movie that takes place before 1900.
Prediction: Unless King Otto can get lightning to strike twice, this team is doomed to finish at the bottom of its group and Greek fans will have to go back to throwing Molotov cocktails at opposing players.