Last chance for points

In its last appearance as the reigning European soccer champion, Greece plays Spain tonight (9.45 p.m.) hoping to salvage something from a miserable campaign that saw it eliminated last Saturday. While Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) president Vassilis Gagatsis hinted for the first time that he would not be a candidate for re-election in the October vote for president, national coach Otto Rehhagel shrugged off questions about his future on the Greece bench yesterday. «We are here to talk about the Spain match,» the German, who has a contract until 2010, told a press conference. Tonight’s match, the last in the group stage, offers the Greeks an opportunity to collect their first points and score their first goals in the competition against the already qualified Spaniards, who will field several substitutes. Rehhagel is likely to stick with the attacking 4-3-3 formation he used against Russia. Goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis will probably get a run-out in his last game as Greece’s stopper, but substitute Alexis Tzorvas may also play some part in the game. The absences of injured players Vassilis Torosidis, Giourkas Seitaridis, Fanis Gekas, Giorgos Karagounis and Christos Patsatzoglou should mean that Loukas Vintra and Nikos Spyropoulos will flank central defenders Sotiris Kyrgiakos and Traianos Dellas, while Costas Katsouranis, Angelos Basinas and Stelios Giannakopoulos will man the midfield. Up front, Angelos Charisteas should have Yiannis Amanatidis and either of Dimitris Salpigidis or Giorgos Samaras as partners. The question ahead of the match is whether the Greeks can lift themselves and face Spanish players eager to prove their worth to their coach. Already many Greek fans have canceled their bookings at local hotels and are selling their tickets for the next rounds to other fans.