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 Greece’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. “There is certainly a motivation for Wednesday’s game — it could be no other way. It’s still a big game,” striker Nikos Lymberopoulos said. “Our aim is to have a very good performance and to win the game.”

The disappointing defense of the title will be capped by the international retirements of goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis and defender Paraskevas Antzas. Greece’s tactics — playing too defensively against Sweden and then unsuccessfully opening up against Russia — plus the weight of expectation heaped on the experienced team was too much too carry. “It’s been a tough group for them, but they want to go out with a good taste in their mouth,” Spain defender Raul Albiol said. “They’ll come out looking to have a good game and to beat us.”

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 doesn’t mean the disciplined Scandinavians will give away the initiative.

“We 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,” 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. — AP