Neustift, June 17:
Spain and Greece go into their final European Championship group game with similar approaches amid very contrasting circumstances.
Spain are looking for a perfect finish to the group stage, while 2004 champions Greece want to save some pride and avoid a scoreless and pointless exit.
The teams meet in a replay of a group match at Portugal four years ago that helped propel Greeceâ€™s run to their first major trophy. The stakes are far different now, with Spain through to the quarter-finals after wins over Russia and Sweden.
Greece are in danger of being the first defending champions to exit the European Championship without scoring. â€œThere is certainly a motivation for Wednesdayâ€™s game â€” it could be no other way. Itâ€™s still a big game,â€ striker Nikos Lymberopoulos said. â€œOur aim is to have a very good performance and to win the game.â€
The disappointing defense of the title will be capped by the international retirements of goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis and defender Paraskevas Antzas. Greeceâ€™s tactics â€” playing too defensively against Sweden and then unsuccessfully opening up against Russia â€” plus the weight of expectation heaped on the experienced team was too much too carry. â€œItâ€™s been a tough group for them, but they want to go out with a good taste in their mouth,â€ Spain defender Raul Albiol said. â€œTheyâ€™ll come out looking to have a good game and to beat us.â€
The Greeks will not have to deal with David Villa or Fernando Torres because Spain coach Aragones will probably rest all of his starters save Andres Iniesta before quarter-final date against the Group C runner-up: Romania or Italy or France.
Swedes favourite against Russians
INNSBRUCK: An experienced Sweden expect to prevail over a youthful Russia when the two teams meet on Wednesday for a spot in the quarter-finals. With a better goal difference than Russia, Sweden need only a draw to advance behind Group C winners Spain, but that doesnâ€™t mean the disciplined Scandinavians will give away the initiative.
â€œWe want to win this match. We know a draw is enough, but the team selection will primarily be about giving us the best chance to play well and win,â€ Sweden coach Lars Lagerback said.
Sweden won 2-0 against defending champion Greece, but lost to Spain 2-1 with David Villa scoring the winner in injury time. Russia bounced back from a crushing 4-1 loss to Spain to send Greece home with a 1-0 win in the second match. â€” AP