2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™

12 June - 13 July

2014 FIFA World Cup™

Samaras: Positive philosophy won't change


"That wasn't what people expected."

Georgios Samaras is right. Greece might have been underdogs for their Group C opener against Colombia, but few expected them to lose the way they did. If the South Americans were to triumph, the assumption was that it would be by monopolising possession - Jose Pekerman's stated pre-match aim - and by grinding down their supposedly dour, defensive opponents.

The reality was very different. Although the points went to Los Cafateros, the stats showed that it was Greece who dominated the ball, and that they used it for as many efforts on goal as their South American opponents. And while a 3-0 defeat proved predictably tough to stomach, Samaras was comforted by the knowledge that his team had contributed to another enthralling FIFA World Cup™ encounter.

"We have more to give at this tournament, but I think we showed something today," he told FIFA.com. "It was a strange game. For the first five or six minutes, we didn't seem to be 100 per cent in it and we conceded a bad goal. But after that, we had a lot of possession, a lot of pressure, and created some quite good chances. But, look, that's football. Colombia didn't have any more chances than we did but they scored three goals and, whether or not the result is fair, we have to face up to it.

"I know what everyone expected of Greece though: that we would have 11 men behind the ball, defend, defend, defend and give everything to keep a clean sheet. But I think what they saw was a team that likes to attack, that moves the ball really well, and that tries always to create chances. We went out to win against Colombia, and that philosophy will not change. We just hope it brings a better result for us because Japan is now a must, must-win game for us.

"All we can do between now and then is keep positive, keep going and continue to play the same kind of football. We created chances against Colombia and that's something we can't forget. On another day, it could have been us winning, and that's something we need to take into this massive match."

In describing the meeting with Japan as a "must, must-win", Samaras is not over-stressing the point. Statisticians may protest that Greece could draw or even lose and still go on to qualify but, realistically, a 3-0 defeat has left them needing a big result to kick-start their campaign. Not that the Asian champions - themselves unfortunate to lose to Côte d'Ivoire - will be an easy team to turn over.

"They're a good team, for sure," said Samaras. "We already know their players as individuals, and between now and kick-off we'll look at them closely as a unit. We want to see where their strengths are but also where they are weaker; where they leave open spaces that we can exploit and create chances."

As well as playing for Greece's World Cup future, Samaras is also playing for his own. After all, having just ended his long association with Celtic, who declined to offer him a new contract, the 29-year-old has no idea where he will be playing his football next season. Nonetheless, he claims to be relaxed about a situation that, for the moment, is well below lifting Greece off the foot of Group C in his list of priorities.

"It's no problem," he said of his uncertain future. "I'm 100 per cent focused on the national team and, when the World Cup is finished, I'll see what my options are and where my career will go. The only strange feeling, to be honest, is not being a Celtic player. I had seven great seasons in Glasgow and I grew up there, both as a person and as a player. But in the end a decision, which I didn't want, was taken by other people. Now I will look for something new, but only after this tournament is finished.

"This is enough for me just now. The World Cup is the World Cup and, whether it is in Africa, South America, Asia or Europe, it's the greatest thing you can do with your national team. Days like today hurt, but I'm very, very happy to be here."

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