FIFA World Cup™ finals history
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, Greece reached the Round of 16 for the first time ever after finishing behind group winners Colombia on four points. They narrowly missed out on a place in the quarter-finals following a 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat to Costa Rica, having drawn the Central Americans 1-1. Greece were forced to pack their bags after the group stage in their two previous tournament appearances, USA 1994 and South Africa 2010, only managing to record one other victory at those competitions combined: a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria at the latter edition.
After exiting Brazil 2014, a period of upheaval ensued in the national team. Georgios Karagounis, the country’s most-capped player who shaped the midfield for years with his fighting spirit and creativity, retired from international duty, leaving a huge void to be filled. Greece’s main strength continues to be a solid defence and in Brazil Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kostas Manolas formed a strong pairing at centre-back, supported by the robust qualities of Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
In October 2015, Michael Skibbe became Greece's fourth coach in little over a year, with instability having reigned following Fernando Santos' resignation after their Round of 16 exit at Brazil 2014. Santos had initially been succeeded by Claudio Ranieri before a series of poor results led to the Italian being replaced by Sergio Markarian. The experienced Uruguayan, though, resigned in July 2015 after only five months in charge. Greece U-21 coach Kostas Tsanas was then placed in interim charge for the next few months before Skibbe took the helm, becoming the team's first German coach since the legendary Otto Rehhagel.
139 - Karagounis amassed a total of 139 international caps, putting him tenth in Europe’s all-time chart, and 33rd worldwide.
The former stars
Theodoros Zagorakis, Antonios Nikopolidis, Angelos Basinas, Nikolaos Anastopoulos, Nikolaos Machlas, Georgios Karagounis