Reported on: June 15, 2012 11:07 AM
Reported in: Sports
WARSAW, June 15(AP/UNB) - With the defense-minded Greeks knowing only victory over an attack-oriented Russia squad will get them into the European Championship quarterfinals, Saturday's match could see a reversal of roles.
"It will be a very sharp game from both sides," Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. "They have to win. A draw is enough for us."
The omens are not good for Greece, which has lost to Russia in the last two European Championships. Russia was the only team to beat Greece on its run to the Euro 2004 title.
At Euro 2012, Russia is the top scoring team with five goals in two matches, three of them from young star Alan Dzagoev.
The CSKA Moscow attacking midfielder had only scored four goals in 20 matches coming into the tournament but has nearly doubled that tally already, finding the net twice against the Czech Republic and again against Poland in Group A.
Greece coach Fernando Santos said he doesn't expect the Russians to abandon their attacking style of play.
"The Russians may only need a draw, but I don't see why they should change their style," Santos said. "Most big teams don't need to anyway. Dzagoev is a very good player, but Russia has many quality players."
Santos has promised changes to Greece's starting lineup for the match at the National Stadium in Warsaw after blaming all three goals the team has conceded on a lack of concentration early in both matches.
"We can make a fresh start against Russia," he said. "It's in difficult circumstances that people show character. And we do have the character to face this situation."
Greece is missing first-choice goalkeeper Costas Chalkias and central defender Avraam Papadopoulos, both to injury, though key defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos will return from suspension after his red card in the first match of the tournament.
Despite using three strikers, the Greeks rarely threatened the Czech Republic in their last game and remain last in the group with two goals scored and conceded three: holding Poland 1-1 in the opening match and losing to 2-1 the Czechs, who scored twice in the first six minutes.
Russia appears to have a fully fit starting 11, but Advocaat may be considering a new center forward after Aleksandr Kerzhakov failed to score in the first two matches, a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic and 1-1 draw with Poland.
If the Dutch coach does decide to change, he could well opt for Roman Pavlyuchenko, who scored three times in Russia's run to the semifinals of Euro 2008. Pavlyuchenko has come on as a substitute twice for Kerzhakov at Euro 2012.
"We have to make sure we take all our chances," Advocaat said.
Pavlyuchenko called Greece a tricky opponent, particularly as it is fighting to avoid elimination.
"It is a powerful, thorny team. Everyone has trouble against them," Pavlyuchenko said. "This match will be even harder than those against the Czech Republic and Poland because it decide who goes to the quarterfinals. Basically, the playoffs start Saturday."
The Russian football federation has again pleaded with fans to behave at the game. UEFA fined the federation Wednesday and warned it will be stripped of six points in its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign if its fans misbehave again.
During and after the Czech match in Wroclaw, Russia fans beat up stewards, displayed nationalist flags and threw a firework onto the field. The flags and firecracker incidents were repeated during the Poland match.
The players and coach refuse to discuss the off-the-field troubles.