Greece sniff chance as Argentina ring changes

June 21st, 2010 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Polokwane (South Africa), June 21 (DPA) Diego Maradona is likely to make as many as seven changes to the Argentina side, expected to secure its place in the last 16 in their last Group B match against Greece in World Cup football here Tuesday.
After two convincing wins, Argentina should secure qualification, while Greece could go through with a draw but would then need Nigeria to beat South Korea.

Following the 1-0 defeat of Nigeria and a 4-1 thumping of South Korea, Maradona’s side is all but through and the coach is expected to bring some of his top names from the bench, including Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero.

Aguero, whose girlfriend Giannina is Maradona’s daughter, admitted he was likely to play alongside Lionel Messi, while Inter Milan striker Diego Milito is also thought likely to get a chance.

Hat-trick man Gonzalo Higuain may be rested, defender Walter Samuel is carrying an injury and two players, Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze, are suspended.

“Leo (Messi) and I have known each other for quite a while, we played some matches together in 2005 (in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup),” Aguero said.

“We understand each other pretty well. In the training Diego (Maradona) told me he’d pair me with Leo.”

He added: “We will do everything we can to top the group, after that we’re not thinking about anyone else. I don’t care if we get Mexico, Uruguay or France (in the last 16).”

Argentina will be careful of not underestimating the durability of an Otto Rehhagel-coached Greece side.

But Greece will be banking on complacency by the Argentinians and believe they can exploit weaknesses in their defence to reach the last 16 for the first time.

“In every match all teams make mistakes. It’s the same with Argentina,” midfielder Thanassis Prittas said.

“The quality of their defence does not match their attack. It’s not that they don’t play well, but it’s not of the same quality,” said Prittas.

“We have to be very careful to watch our defence, preserve a clean sheet for as long as possible and try to exploit counter-attacks.”

Greek players say even if Argentina rest some of their first-choice players it would make no difference to the quality of the team.

“The whole squad is full of exceptional players,” said defender Stelios Malezas. “It doesn’t really matter who is going to play against us.”

For Maradona, the match will revive memories of the 1994 World Cup when he scored the last of his eight World Cup goals against Greece in a 4-0 win. After that came a failed a doping test and the subsequent 15-month ban which ended his international playing career.

The 1994 tournament was Greece’s only previous appearance in a finals when it lost all three of its group matches.

The Greek federation kept faith with 71-year-old Rehhagel after the failure to qualify in for the 2006 finals in Germany and exit at the group stage in Euro 2008.

And the German coach, who led the Greeks to their surprise Euro 2004 title, can expect to be feted again should his side cause an upset and reach the knockout stage.

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