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Greeks in Baros threat - Czechs may be favourites, but we are desperate: Karagounis

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By (AGENCIES) in Lisbon
  • Published 1.07.04
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Lisbon: Few would have expected a duel between Milan Baros and Traianos Dellas to be decisive to the outcome of Euro 2004 but much will hinge on their performances in Thursday’s semi-final between the Czech Republic and Greece.

Czech striker Baros has scored in all their four games so far and his five goals, including two in the quarter-final win over Denmark, make him the unexpected leading scorer.

The 22-year-old could equal Frenchman Michel Platini’s record of scoring in five successive European Championship finals matches should he find the target against the Greeks.

Centre-half Dellas, one of the most impressive defenders in the tournament, stands between Baros and that record and, just like his opponent, he came to Portugal after a disappointing season with his club.

Baros managed just one goal in 13 appearances for Liverpool while Dellas was left on the fringes at AS Roma, featuring in only 12 Serie A matches.

While Baros is one of the few surprises in an excellent Czech side that has fully lived up to expectations, Dellas is among many unexpected successes in the Greek squad.

Otto Rehhagel’s team has been producing surprises since the first day of Euro 2004, beating hosts and fellow semi-finalists Portugal in the opening match and qualifying ahead of Spain and Russia from group A.

That was the first time the Greeks had gone beyond the group stage in a major tournament, and then they went one better dashing the hopes of holders France in the quarter finals.

German Rehhagel has lively striker Zisis Vryzas — whose goal in the 1-2 defeat to Russia ensured second place in the group — back from suspension and he is expected to return to the attack at the expense of Demis Nikolaidis.

Stelios Giannakopoulos, who missed the last two matches due to injury, is also back in line for a starting place. Georgios Karagounis is happy to have put Greek football on the map, but having proved they can live with the big boys and confidence sky-high, he now feels they can make the final.

“The Czechs have won all their four matches and are favourites on Thursday and may be for the championship,” said the 27-year-old Inter Milan player, a free transfer signing from Panathinaikos last summer. “We have nothing to lose but it’s such a huge occasion we don’t want to let it pass us by. We desperately want to reach the final.”

PROBABLE TEAMS

Greece (4-4-2): 1-Antonis Nikopolidis; 2-Yourkas Seitaridis, 19-Michalis Kapsis, 5-Traianos Dellas, 14-Takis Fyssas; 8-Stelios Giannakopoulos, 20-Giorgos Karagounis, 6-Angelos Basinas, 7-Theodoros Zagorakis; 15-Zisis Vryzas, 9-Angelos Haristeas.

Czech Republic (4-4-2): 1-Petr Cech; 2-Zdenek Grygera, 21-Tomas Ujfalusi, 5-Rene Bolf, 6-Marek Jankulovski; 8-Karel Poborsky, 4-Tomas Galasek, 10-Tomas Rosicky, 11-Pavel Nedved; 15-Milan Baros, 9-Jan Koller.