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Greece to face Russia: Last chance, Last dance

Greece centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos has declared this coming Saturday’s match versus Russia as “the most important” for the country in past two years.

A draw in opposition to Poland during opening day, followed by a 2-1 loss to the Czechs has been real bad news to the Euro 2004 champions.

"Tomorrow's game is the most important one we have played in the past two years,” Papastathopoulos told reporters. “We all want to win. There are no outsiders or favorites for tomorrow's match [against Russia]. It's just 90 minutes. It's very important that a 1-0 win van be enough for us to go through."

Veteran striker Fanis Gekas told reporters that the Greeks must maintain their confidence and believe in themselves on their match against the Group A leaders on Saturday.

"If we are focused and self-confident, we can make it against Russia,” Gekas said earlier.

“The draw between Russia and Poland was the best possible result for us. We have pressure for the win, but Russia have also pressure not to lose the game."

As a reaction to the overwhelming criticism after the loss against the Czech Republic, Greece coach Fernando Santos spoke about how they have analyzed Russia’s playing style. Similar to what Gekas highlights, he stressed the significance of self-confidence and though they are not really in a good position (they are currently last place in their group), he expressed hope that they will still make it to the quarterfinals.

"We know very well Russia's style of play,” said Santos. “We have exhaustively analyzed it. I know that is being said that we weren't prepared against Poland and Czech Republic, but that's not true.”

"Russia's two strong points are their through balls and their passing game. But they are also very good in counter-attacks. We need to be focused in our game and look with self-confidence for the goal that will lead us through to the next stage."

On specifics, Santos believes that keeping forwards Alan Dzagoev and Andrey Arshavin always at check will be vital if Greece is to claim the win it needs to advance.

“We’ll have to be aggressive in our defending, and not to let them run with the ball,” Santos said.

“We’ve been watching Russia games closely... they have very competent players, especially in midfield and up front. And they like possession.”

What do you think?