Greece: Fernando Santos (23-12-4)
Romania: Victor Piţurcă (50-20-18)
Thirty-First Meeting All-Time
Series History: Romania 17 wins, Greece 5 wins, 8 draws
Defensively speaking, Greece is the best of the eight teams that still remain in the UEFA section of the World Cup Qualifying Playoffs. Greece only allowed four goals over the course of their entire group play; three of those goals came on March 22 in a 3-1 loss to Bosnia & Herzegovina. That means that Greece had eight shutouts in the group stage; it’s just an unheard of number at this level of soccer.
Greece will be lead into this tie by captain Giorgos Karagounis of Fulham ,who at 36, is looking at his last run at making the World Cup. Other than Karagounis, Greece boasts a relatively young squad who should be capable of making noise in the Euro 2016 Qualifying Tournament.
The biggest key for Greece going into this match-up will be if they can generate the offense that they need to advance. Greece scored more than one goal in only three of their qualifiers and really does not look like they are built for a shootout. If they can silence Romania’s attack and keep the score low then look for Greece to advance to Brazil.
Greece Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Vasilis Torosidis — Sokratis Papastathopoulos — Dimitris Siovas — José Holebas
Giannis Maniatis — Alexandros Tziolis
Dimitris Salpingidis — Giorgos Karagounis — Giorgos Samaras
If you can count on anything from Romania, it is that they will hungry going into this playoff series. This generation of Romanian footballers has not made an appearance in a World Cup; the last time Romania participated was in France 1998. Romania do have World Cup History though as they qualified for all of the tournaments in the 1990s but since then they made the playoffs once and have slipped further down in recent years. This cycle’s Romania survived a very tough group having Hungary and Turkey nipping at their heels the entire way.
Romania’s hopes will rest on the shoulders of Getafe striker Ciprian Marica who will need to lead the offense. Romania was unbeaten when they scored more than one goal during the group stage and they are matched up with an offensively-challenged Greece. If Romania can score early in the first leg then they should be even more confident about their chances to qualify for Brazil.
Romania Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Alexandru Mățel — Florin Gardoș — Dorin Goian — Răzvan Raț
Costin Lazăr — Alexandru Bourceanu
Gabriel Torje — Bogdan Stancu — Cristian Tănase
Greece hosts Romania in the first leg of their UEFA Qualifying Playoff at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus on Friday, Nov 15 at 2:45 p.m. ET and can be seen online on ESPN3.
First Leg Prediction: Greece 1, Romania 1