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Soccer-Greece World Cup draw factbox

Reuters

ATHENS, Nov 27 - Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Greece:

Form and Prospects

If the form book is anything to go by then the smart money would

be on Fernando Santos' Greece at least making it through to the

knock-out stage of World Cup 2014.

The Greeks are well worth their place in the draw for next

summer's showpiece after seeing off Romania in impressive style

in the playoffs on the back of a strong qualifying campaign.

Santos' team finished behind eventual Group G winners Bosnia

only on goal difference, with a 3-1 loss to the Bosnians in

Zenica proving their only defeat of another solid qualifying

campaign - albeit in one of Europe's weaker sections.

With a playing style which makes them hard to beat but

unspectacular up front, Greece chalked up an impressive record

of eight wins in their 10 group matches, five of them by 1-0

scorelines.

That lack of goals did cost them top spot but Santos'

ability to blood young players while still keeping a core of

trusted, experienced pros in the dressing room such as Giorgos

Karagounis, Fanis Gekas and Kostas Katsouranis, has proved a

recipe for success.

As ever, Greece will be hard to beat while providing a

considerable threat on the counter attack with their tried and

tested triumvirate strike force of Celtic's Giorgos Samaras,

Olympiakos Piraeus striker Kostas Mitroglou and the tireless

Dimitris Salpingidis.

Coach: Fernando Santos

The poker-faced 57-year-old, who sticks to a creed in his

own words of "tactics first, technical ability second", took

over after Greece's World Cup exit in 2010 and has gone about

the considerable task of carrying on the good work of

predecessor Otto Rehhagel in his own way, bringing stability and

success with him.

After a creditable display at Euro 2012, where Greece were

beaten by Germany in the quarter-finals, Santos' men only lost

out on an automatic place at Brazil 2014 to Bosnia on goal

difference.

An important factor of Santos' success is his extensive

knowledge of Greek football and culture from his time as a club

manager, having coached some of the country's top clubs in AEK

Athens, Panathinaikos and PAOK Salonica.

Santos lives permanently in Greece and spends most of his

time watching matches and checking on young talent both at home

an on the continent.

He also relies heavily on team manager Takis Fyssas, who was

part of Greece's Euro 2004 winning squad, as well as working

with the younger representative teams.

Key player: Kostas Mitroglou

There is no doubt that the Olympiakos Piraeus striker is the

new darling of the Greek fans and a player who has finally come

of age after a frustrating few seasons playing second fiddle at

club and international level.

The 25-year-old, who was brought to Olympiakos from Borussia

Moenchengladbach's youth set-up in 2007, has always shown a

flair for goals but as well as an impressive strike rate, he has

now shown an increased maturity in leading the attack and

bringing other players into the game.

Despite being somewhat media shy, Mitroglou - who has scored

41 goals in 84 appearances for Olympiakos - is affectionately

known as "Mitrogoal" and "Pistolero" by his club's fanatical

fans for his gun-toting goal celebrations.

The 2013-14 campaign has unquestionably been his

breakthrough season.

He became the first Greek player to score a hat-trick in the

UEFA Champions League with a treble at Anderlecht in October,

and he has run riot in the domestic Super League by notching up

14 goals in 10 matches - including three hat-tricks.

While not noted for his pace, Mitroglou's key attributes are

his intelligent movement off the ball, physical strength and a

powerful long range shot.

How they qualified: Runners-up European Group G

2012

Sept 7 Latvia A W 2-1 Spiropoulos, Gekas

Sept 11 Lithuania H W 2-0 Ninis, Mitroglou

Oct 12 Bosnia H D 0-0

Oct 16 Slovakia A W 1-0 Salpingidis

2013

March 22 Bosnia A L 1-3 Gekas

June 7 Lithuania A W 1-0 Christodoulopoulos

Sept 6 Liechtenstein A W 1-0 Mitroglou

Sept 10 Latvia H W 1-0 Salpingidis

Oct 11 Slovakia H W 1-0 Skrtel og

Oct 15 Liechtenstein H W 2-0 Salpingidis, Karagounis

Playoffs

Nov 15 Romania H W 3-1 Mitroglou 2, Salpingidis

Nov 19 Romania A D 1-1 Mitroglou

World Cup record:

Previous appearances: 2 (1994, 2010)

Best performance: Never past group stage

Odds: William Hill odds to win World Cup (Nov 2013): 200-1

(Compiled by Graham Wood, edited by Mike Collett)

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