GDANSK – Greece coach Fernando Santos said on Thursday he is happy for his team to play the role of David in Friday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final — providing the Greeks topple European Goliaths Germany.
The Germans are bidding for a fourth European crown, having last tasted success 16 years ago, but Greece is aiming to pull off another giant killing having shocked Russia to book their place in the Arena Gdansk quarterfinal.
Much has been made in the build-up to Friday’s quarterfinal with unfancied Greece aiming to emulate their Euro 2004 triumph against Germany, who is amongst the favorites for the title.
The match has a political backdrop with German Chancellor Angela Merkel an unpopular figure in Greece due to her insistence on painful austerity measures as the best response to the eurozone crisis.
A first win over Germany in the history of Greek soccer would boost moral amongst Greeks who are enduring their fifth straight year of recession and Santos is happy for his team to take the underdog role, as long as they win.
When a journalist asked if Greece could be considered as the biblical figure David who slayed the giant Philistine warrior Goliath, according to the Old Testament, Santos warmed to the analogy.
“If we see it from a historical point of view, David verses Goliath is a good thing for us, because ultimately Goliath lost to David,» said the 57-year-old with Greece having never beaten Germany in eight attempts.
“It is something true that the size of the Germany side is really impressive, it is a good team who often make it to the semis or finals of tournaments.
“They are very stable and concrete side, I am willing to accept the role of David… as long as history repeats itself.”
Greece will be without captain Giorgos Karagounis and German-born defender Jose Holebas, who are both suspended after picking up two group stage bookings.
Germany striker Mario Gomez is the tournament’s joint top-scorer with three goals in three games, while Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil leads the Germany attack in midfield, but Santos said he is not worried about the German stars.
“We don’t focus on one particular player, we have to concentrate on the team as a whole,» said Santos. «In Ozil, we are talking about a marvellous player, who is extremely talented and it is no accident he is in the Real Madrid starting side.
“(Real coach) Jose Mourinho clearly thinks Ozil is the best Number 10 in the world. We will have no plan to mark him, it won’t be like it was when I was a player when a coach would tell you to mark a guy until the end, even if he goes to the toilet. Then you had to wait for him outside.”