Rehhagel is changing formation and tactics

Greece is preparing for tomorrow’s key match against Russia in Group D of the European soccer championship hoping to banish the sentiments and experiences of the 2-0 loss to Sweden on Tuesday. The European Champions are playing at 21.45 in Salzburg. Coach Otto Rehhagel seemed yesterday to have just returned to the drawing board, in setting up his team lineup by replacing striker Giorgos Samaras and Nikos Lymperopoulos with defender Paraskevas Antzas and center forward Fanis Gekas. He is switching from Tuesday’s 4-5-1 formation, which was more defense-orientated, to a much more aggressive one of 4-3-3, which had given Greece the top spot in the qualification round. The match is a must-win one for Greece and the tactics are based on getting goals, not defending. Greek players have also tried to change the atmosphere at the training camp, making statements aimed at boosting the hopes fans and the press, too. Defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos made reference to last year’s home loss to Turkey (1-4) and said: «In Greece we always think a defeat means the end of the world, yet it was only a defeat. We may have lost a battle but not the war. After the game with Turkey, we never lost again in the qualifiers.» Fullback Vassilis Torosidis said the criticism leveled at the team had been too harsh: «This is the team that offered people so much, but now they have started putting it down. We will always do our best and play with great passion in order to win. Above all we need to improve our psychology right now,» he said yesterday. Rightback Giourkas Seitaridis had a muscle problem and did not train with the rest of the squad. If he is not fit to play tomorrow, he will likely be replaced by Loukas Vintra. Greeks also got some relief from the news about the groin injury to Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, the stand-in for injured Pavel Pogrebnyak, and Andrei Arshavin’s suspension. He is doubtful for tomorrow’s clash. Up to 10,000 Greek fans are expected to attend the game, and 700 of them went at the training camp yesterday chanting for the players and asking for autographs.