Greece's goal going into qualifying for South Africa 2010 must be to translate their recent success on the European stage into significant progress in FIFA World Cup™ football.
The Group 2 top seeds were European champions in 2004 and advanced to the UEFA EURO 2008 finals with more points than any other team. In between, though, they missed out on Germany 2006 - finishing fourth in their group - and have a forgettable FIFA World Cup record overall, their only previous appearance in 1994 producing three defeats.
Otto Rehhagel's team will want to start making amends now but standing in their way are two sides whose own recent efforts give them reason to believe too. Israel may have missed out on qualification for Germany 2006 but they were unbeaten in qualifying; in their EURO 2008 campaign, meanwhile, they won seven of 12 matches to finish level on points with England. As for Switzerland, they impressed at the last FIFA World Cup, where they did not concede a single goal prior to a second-round penalty shootout loss against Ukraine, and the experience that will come from co-hosting EURO 2008 should give their young side added maturity going into qualifying for South Africa.
Greece must be regarded as favourites given their successes during Rehhagel's reign. They have a hugely experienced side but they could face particularly stiff competition from Switzerland, who edged Israel out on the road to Germany, despite home and away draws between the pair.
Israel: Dror Kashtan's charges have appeared only once in a major tournament, at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. Yet they have taken notable strides in their last two qualifying campaigns with their impressive home form - one defeat in 14 qualifiers - a major factor.
Latvia: Surprise qualifiers for EURO 2004, the team from the Baltic nation have disappointed in their last two campaigns, finishing fifth on both occasions. They will hope for better in a section also including Moldova and Luxembourg.
The stars to follow
Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Giorgios Karagounis, Theofanis Gekas (GRE), Tranquillo Barnetta (SUI), Ben Sahar (ISR)
The crunch match
As the sides with the greatest pedigree, Greece and Switzerland should both enter qualifying confident of advancing to South Africa and their two encounters could prove key to deciding first place in the section.
A look back
Luxembourg 3-4 Latvia, 8 September 2004, Luxembourg
These rivals traded seven goals in a match which provided the best result of the Germany 2006 qualifying campaign for Luxembourg, who conceded a continent-worst 48 goals. The home side led 3-2 before an Eric Hoffmann own goal and Andrejs Prohorenjovs effort in the space of three minutes turned the game the way of Latvia.
93 - That was the minute in which Nikolaos Liberopoulos struck Greece's winner in an uncomfortably narrow home success against Moldova in EURO 2008 qualifying. Liberopoulos had earlier recorded the only goal of the teams' meeting in Chisinau after 77 minutes.
Did you know?
Only one team in the section, Switzerland, has won a FIFA World Cup finals match.
The makeup of Group 2 invites several questions, not least whether Greece can fulfil their potential on the world stage. Israel fans, meanwhile, will wonder whether their team can build on recent performances and actually gain a finals place this time.