Greece will go into their match against Cyprus on Saturday seeking to keep their perfect record in the UEFA Nations League, although they have already been promoted to League C as champions of League C Group 2.
In the meanwhile, the hosts are still looking for their first win in the group and are facing the possibility of being demoted to the fourth level of competition.
Match Preview: Cyprus vs Greece
FIFA’s 108th-ranked Cyprus has just two points in four League C Group 2 games. Both wins came against Northern Ireland, although they wasted a two-goal lead in Belfast and drew.
Nikos Kostenoglou has been replaced by former Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers player Temur Ketsbaia. Ketsbaia must remove Cyprus from League C’s Group 2 bottom.
A fourth-place result is not enough to assure survival, as the Cypriots would then face the other three bottom-dwelling League C countries in a relegation playoff. Cyprus must beat Greece to finish above Northern Ireland in the rankings.
Cyprus has only won once in eight meetings against Piratiko, 2-1 in November 2001. Greece is one of four flawless Nations League teams this season. They’ve won all group games, scoring seven goals and allowing none.
The Piratiko beat Northern Ireland and Kosovo on the road before beating Cyprus 3-0 at home. Anastasios Bakasetas scored in all three games, but Giorgos Giakoumakis and Petros Mantalos scored in June’s 2-0 win over Kosovo.
Greece finished third and second in the Nations League in their previous two seasons; under Gus Poyet, they are first with four games left and have earned promotion.
Greece has less pressure this month without the World Cup, but a victory versus Cyprus would be their first five-game winning streak since 2013.
Team News: Cyprus vs Greece
Valentin Roberge, a defender born in France who is now 35 years old and has received his first call-up to the Cyprus national team. It may make his debut in the back three alongside Alex Gogic and Nikolas Ioannou. It is also protecting goalkeeper Constantinos Panagi.
Roberge was given the call-up because of his experience playing in France. Pieros Sotiriou, a striker who has scored 12 goals for his country in international competition, is anticipated to lead the line.
Marinos Tzionis and Demetris Christofi will assist Pieros Sotiriou in the attack. Bakasetas is about to earn his 50th international cap for Greece.
It is expected that he will start in the central midfield position with Andreas Bouchalakis and Manolis Siopis. On each side of central defenders Konstantinos Mavropanos and Pantelis Chatzidiakos.
It is also anticipated that full-backs Kostas Tsimikas of Liverpool and George Baldock of Sheffield United would continue to play their positions.
After coming off the bench and scoring in the last match, Celtic’s Giakoumakis may be allowed to start in the central striker position. Because Vangelis Pavlidis’ injury prevents him from playing.
- Cyprus Possible Starting Lineup: Panagi, Roberge, Gogic, Katelaris, Panagiotou, Kastanos, Artymatas, Ioannou, Christofi, Tzionis, Sotiriou.
- Greece Possible Starting Lineup: Vlachodimos, Baldock, Mavropanos, Chatzidiakos, Tsimikas, Bouchalakis, Siopis, Bakasetas, Chatzigiovanis, Giakoumakis, Masouras.
Our Prediction: Cyprus 0-2 Greece
While Greece is just playing for pride, relegation is a very real possibility for Cyprus, and a win here would offer a significant boost to their chances of surviving. On the other hand, the visitors have been dominant throughout their Nations League campaign thus far, and we anticipate that they will earn yet another easy victory on Saturday.