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Thursday, June 17, 2010

GREECE vs NIGERIA >>> Match Previews

Nerves will be jangling in Bloemfontein on Thursday as both Greece and Nigeria know that another defeat could be enough to bring an early end to their World Cup campaign. Greece were insipid when losing 2-0 to South Korea in their opening game in Group B while Nigeria fell at the feet of an entertaining Argentina side. A draw is unlikely to suffice; this is very much a must-win game.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel finds himself in the deepest predicament. With Argentina to come in his side's final game, Greece really need to throw off the defensive shackles that inhibited their performance in a 2-0 defeat to South Korea. However, history suggests that Rehhagel's hugely negative side are unlikely to do so. Indeed, with Sotirios Kyrgiakos expected to return to the side and Vangelis Moras fit again, solidity and caution will be their watchwords.

Looking to break down the wall of Greek shirts will be a Nigeria attack that, at times, threatened to undo Diego Maradona's Argentina. Coach Lars Lagerback may look to start Obafemi Martins after he made a positive impression from the bench at Ellis Park while talented winger Peter Odemwingie is also pushing for a start in place of Chinedu Ogbuke.

This Nigeria side may suffer in comparison with memorable teams from the country's past, but on Thursday they have the chance to take the initiative against Greece. How well they fare may determine their fate in Group B.

Greece player in focus: Theofanis Gekas
Greece must win, and if they do manage to create any chances of note then Gekas is the man they will rely on to put the ball away. The Eintracht Frankfurt striker scored ten goals in 11 games in qualifying to top the goalscoring charts on the continent.

Nigeria player in focus: Obafemi Martins
The Wolfsburg striker was the only Nigeria player to manage a shot on target against Argentina in their opening game and with his pace, direct style and finishing ability, should represent a real threat against Greece.

Key battle: Alexandros Tzorvas v Yakubu

Tzorvas will be the last line of a resolute defence and if the 'keeper is on form, then Yakubu may face a frustrating afternoon in front of goal. The Everton striker scored just five Premier League goals last season and has struggled with his fitness for some time.

Trivia: Nigeria are the only team at the World Cup finals that do not have a single squad member playing in the country's domestic league.

Stats: Greece have failed to score a goal in four attempts in World Cup games. They have, however, conceded 12 goals. If they do not score again, they will level the record for the most consecutive games without a goal, matching Bolivia.

If Greece continue to show no attacking initiative then it must be hoped that Nigeria snatch a late win. There will not be a glut of chances though


Take NIGERIA give 1/2 > GREECE


Take NIGERIA 2 - 0

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