Greece wary of Israel danger
Fernando Santos' side have not been beaten in his 12-game tenure so far and sit top of their group with four wins and two draws from their six matches. They face a stiff test in Tel Aviv tomorrow night, however, and go into the match without defender Nikos Spyropoulos and forward Stefanos Athanasiadis. Santos' men then meet Latvia in Riga next week.
Midfielder Kostas Katsouranis, who played in Israel last month when his Panathinaikos side faced Maccabi Tel Aviv, warned his team-mates and their followers to beware a tricky task. Ahead of the 3.05pm kick-off, he told ekathimerini.com: "It will be difficult in the afternoon heat in Israel. It is so humid. When you play there it is as if someone is pulling you back.
"We will do all we can to get the result we want, and that is victory, although a draw would not be so bad either. We will work all week long and it is important for us to stay fresh in order to have all the strength required for the game."
Santos, meanwhile, was similarly cautious ahead of a meeting with a side just one point behind them, albeit having played a game more. "Israel will give it everything because it's probably their last chance to qualify. We'll play to win, but we also need to be practical."
Latvia face a trip to Georgia with four points accrued from six games so far, with coach Aleksandrs Starkovs admitting his priority is to make progress in the process of rebuilding his side. Starkovs, who will be without Alexander Kolinko and Artem Rudnevs among others, told local press: "Our main task in both our upcoming games will be to give a worthy display and show a good performance on the pitch.
"Indeed, the Latvian national football team is currently experiencing difficult times because as generations of players change, it is a process that takes some time to build the new team. Together and individually we have to come through losses and learn from mistakes. We just ask our fans for their patience and continued support as always during this transitional period.
"There is a saying 'victory has many friends but the loss is an orphan'," he added. "Each player has to deal with setbacks himself and prepare for next time. The coach, though, has to work with the players and the team as a whole with the aim of getting the best possible results for the country.
"The Latvian players are always ready to help their country at any time and they all turned up on Monday after playing for their clubs at the weekend and trained well. We do have some players missing but we'll try to get the best from what we have. It's important to produce a performance, the motivation is there every time."
Tomorrow's other match sees group strugglers Malta entertain Croatia in Ta' Qali.