Recently-appointed Greek national team manager John van’t Schip has been making headlines in Greece for his daring decision not to include some of the most well-known players that the nation has to offer in the call-ups for the games against Italy and Bosnia.
The decision to overlook names such as Arsenal’s Papastathopoulos, Napoli’s Manolas and PSV’s Mitroglou was based on the fact that Greece has very little to go for in the upcoming games, considering they’ve already been disqualified from the upcoming Euro 2020 finals.
The Dutch manager had more space to try out some players who haven’t had much of a chance to prove themselves on a national level, despite performing very well individually.
Among those players to receive an invite for the upcoming games were AZ Alkmaar’s Pantelis Hatzidiakos, Deportivo La Corunia’s Vasilis Lambropoulos and Bayer Leverkusen’s Panagiotis Retsos.
The upcoming games against Italy (on Sunday) and Bosnia (next Wednesday) will prove to be a great test for these players, as van’t Schip and his assistant Michalis Valkanis try to filter out the admittedly rich talent pool of Greek football.
The next goal has already been established – the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After the first few training sessions at Agios Kosmas, the Dutch manager appears decided on the starting eleven against the four-time World Champions, as he will likely be applying a 4-4-2 formation.
Odysseas Vlachodimos will be at the goalposts after Vasilis Barkas suffered a ruptured thumb and will need to undergo surgery.
On the left of defence will be Leonardo Koutris, with his teammate at Olympiacos, Kostas Tsimikas withdrawing from the squad due to a minor injury in his team’s game against Aris.
On the right will be Vasilis Bakakis. In the heart of defence, one position will be given to Panathinaikos’ Dimitris Kourbelis while the other will most likely be taken by Hatzidiakos.
Andreas Bouchalakis will be the defensive midfielder, with Petros Mantalos playing on the left flank and Marios Vrusaj on the right.
Van’t Schip seems undecided as to who will take the last position in midfield with Kostas Galanopoulos and Dimitris Siopis being the most likely candidates.
Things are clearer up front, with the two forward positions taken up by Tasos Donis and Efthimis Koulouris, with both players making an exceptional start to their season in the French First Division.
The game against Italy will be played at the “Olimpico” of Rome, while three days later Greece will host Bosnia in Athens.