Greece vs Spain predictions and match preview for Thursday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier. Read on for expert analysis, the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups as La Roja face a key game in Athens.
|Thursday 11th November 2021
|21:45 (local time)
|Athens Olympic Stadium
|FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Greece vs Spain Preview
It’s a massive week for Spain as they bid to secure their place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Luis Enrique’s side are 2nd in Group B and must win both of their final games to be certain of their place, starting with a potentially tricky trip to Greece.
It has been a rollercoaster year for the Spanish national team. They largely exceeded expectations by reaching the last four of Euro 2020 and the Final of the UEFA Nations League having gained revenge on Euros conquerors Italy in the Semis. However their World Cup qualifying campaign has been a rocky one and the only positive for La Roja is that matters are firmly in their own hands heading into these decisive final two matches.
A home draw against Greece and defeat in Sweden mean they only have 13 points from 6 games to date and it would have been even worse had Dani Olmo not scored a 92nd minute winner in Georgia earlier in the group. If they drop points in Athens, Sweden will win the group if they beat the Georgians in Batumi on the same night and that would leave Spain needing to win two single-legged play-offs to qualify in the spring.
Spain were pretty impressive in the UEFA Nations League during the last international break but frustratingly a number of their star performers will not be available here. Ferran Torres, who scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Italy, is absent through injury and the same goes for Mikel Oyarzabal who netted in the Final defeat to France. Ansu Fati has also been forced to withdraw from the squad so Luis Enrique has some decisions to make in the final third.
This is also a big game for Greece who maintain a mathematical chance of qualifying. A victory would give them a chance of claiming the play-off position heading into their final game but anything less would mean elimination. The 2004 European champions haven’t made it to a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup with some woeful qualifying campaigns since then but they’ve been a bit more competitive this time around.
They rarely threatened but still claimed a point in Granada in the reverse fixture with Spain thanks to a penalty from Anastasios Bakasetas. He was also on target in the 2-1 home win against group leaders Sweden in September. They backed that up with a 2-0 win in Georgia before going down 2-0 in Stockholm but the Greeks did have more possession and more shots on goal than their opponents in that match.
Head to Head
- Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 1 Greece Win, 3 Spain Wins, 2 Draws.
- The sides drew 1-1 in Granada in March in the reverse fixture.
- The previous meeting was at Euro 2008 where Spain were 2-1 victors.
- Spain are unbeaten in 4 matches against Greece since a 1-0 home defeat in Euro 2004 qualifying.
Greece are hampered by a couple of suspensions including that of Anastasios Bakasetas who has scored 3 of their 7 goals in the group. Pantelis Hatzidiakos is also banned.
Eric Garcia, Ansu Fati and Yeremy Pino all pulled out of the initial Spain squad due to injury. Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal are also out injured.
Greece: Vlachodimos – Androutsos, Goutas, Tzavellas, Tsimikas, Giannoulis – Bouchalakis, Siopis, Mantalos – Pavlidis, Masouras (5-3-2)
Spain: Simon – Gaya, Torres, Laporte, Carvajal – Koke, Busquets, Soler – Olmo, Morata, Sarabia (4-3-3)
Greece vs Spain Predictions
Score Prediction: Greece 1-2 Spain
The fact that Greece have to win to stay in contention may just work to Spain’s advantage. Luis Enrique’s side have often come unstuck in situations where their opponents have simply parked the bus but they should have some space to play in here, at least in the latter stages if Greece need to chase a goal, and that may open things up and allow Spain’s extra quality to be decisive.
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