Greece news

Greece out to spoil hosts' party again

Galanolefki stars hope Poland go the same way as Portugal in opener

ESPN staff

Kostas Chalkias was part of the Greece squad that won Euro 2004© Getty Images

Veteran goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias believes it is time to move on from Greece's shock triumph at Euro 2004 and has urged the nation's new generation to write their own history at this year's tournament.

Chalkias, 38, is one of three players - Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis are the others - involved this time who were part of Otto Rehhagel's squad eight years ago, when Greece were crowned continental champions against the odds - beating hosts Portugal in both the opening fixture and the final.

The PAOK goalkeeper is now No. 1 for the national team and believes there is plenty to be excited about as Greece prepare to once again take on the host nation in the tournament's curtain raiser, with Poland their first opponents at Euro 2012 this Friday. 

"In the last decade the Greek national squad have achieved many things and have reached the final stages of major competitions," Chalkias said. "This is a team that are constantly improving, evolving and have the resources for a great future. That's why I don't like comparing generations. I see a continuity instead."

Looking ahead to the Poland game, he said: "The first match in a competition is always decisive. It sets the tone for the remainder of the tournament."

As in their Euro 2004 opener, Greece find themselves as the underdogs with the bookies, but left-back Giorgos Tzavellas is hopeful that Fernando Santos' side can spring another surprise.

"The Poland squad will be feeling pressure because they will play before their home crowd," Tzavellas said. "We are not arrogant, we respect every opponent we come up against, but at the same time we have nothing to fear.

"Greece spoiled the hosts' party once before, eight years ago, and I hope that we will do it again. Our hope is to have the whole squad fit, to continue playing well in defence and to improve our attacking game. If we manage to do that, we will be on the right track."

Olympiakos midfielder Giannis Maniatis is also relishing the prospect of competing in his first international tournament for Greece after starring in his club side's Super League title success this season.

"I wanted so much to be part of this squad and it will be the biggest stage on which I've ever played football," he said. "It's been a memorable season for me. I will continue working with the same dedication as always."

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