Romania vs Greece by Rostick
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The hosts are surely not impressive in terms of talent, which made their playoff qualification rather impressive. Romania did well to finish ahead of Turkey and Hungary in the group, but objectively that was mainly because of the horrible start the turks had in the qualies. The first leg against Greece was a nightmare for the romanians,. While they were as good as Greece in the first half, overall they should be happy that they escaped with a 3-1 defeat. The hosts confirmed their strength at home in the second part of the game, missing at least 3 clear cut chances to go 4-1 up in the second half. The hosts will try to repair the damage at home, but will be under tremendous pressure, with the fans losing faith in the team and especially the head coach (for no reason I`d say, Piturca did everything he could do with these players, but it`s true that he refuses to send the best and most in-form guys in the starting 11).
The visitors were unlucky to only finish second in the group, their 25 points should have been enough to put them on the plane to Brazil, but Bosnia finished 1st due to the H2H. Greece proved yet again that they are one of the most underrated teams in recent international history, putting in a strong home performance, on the back of 2 goals by Mitroglu, who is in spectacular form. He is expected to lead the line again today, as Greece will look to make use of their rock solid defense and hit the romanians on counterattacks.
The greeks are in fantastic form at the moment, with 7 consecutive wins and a single loss in the last 15 games, in Bosnia (12 w – 2d – 1l). While Greece is clearly stronger at home, they are proving they can play on the road too, defeating the likes of Norway, Slovakia, Ireland or Austria in the last 15 games. Actually, Greece only lost twice on the road in the last 40 outings, if we exclude a neutral-venue affair against today`s opponents two years ago. The visitors are extremely hard to beat, that is a fact. In the last 40 games, they only lost 4 times: to Bosnia, Germany, Czech Republic and Romania (1-3 in a winter training camp).
Team news & lineups
Top center back Chiriches will be back in the starting lineup for Romania, a big plus for the hosts. GK Tatarusanu could also feature. However, Romania will be decimated in the defensive midfielder position. Playing 4-2-3-1, Romania misses its best three anchor men (Pintilii – injured, Lazar and Bourceanu – suspended). This is a huge blow for the hosts, as the partnership between Bourceanu and Pintillii was arguably the strongest point of the team, with Lazar as a decent replacement. Piturca will have to improvise in front of the defense with reserve center-back Gardos and poor Cocis (Hoverla). With Mutu not called up, Romania will continue to suffer in the attacking setup also. Greece has no new injuries or suspensions except for Katsouranis, who got booked in the first leg.
Romania: Lobont (Tatarusanu) – Matel, Chiriches, Goian, Rat – Gardos, Cocis – Nicolita, Maxim, Stancu – Marica
Greece: Karnezis – Torosidis, Sokratis, Slovas, Holebas – Maniatis, Karagounis, Tziolis – Salpingidis, Mitroglu, Samaras
About 50.000 electric fans will support Romania today, but if the hosts don`t score early, expect them to be heavily booed, as the fans are on the edge. This game is the last sacrifice they are willing to do for the National team, and every misplaced pass will create tension in the stands.
I can`t see Romania getting anything out of this game. Looking at the starting lineup, the team is dirt poor at the moment and has no business being in the playoffs. The current form and the showing in the first leg strengthen this opinion. 7-8 of the best 11-12 players in the country are out (injuries, suspensions, retirements from NT, not called up
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|Greece +0,5||Pinnacle||1.78||10||1-1 WON (+7.8 units)|
* Odds as of post published time and are subject to change.