Greece should be at full strength as they begin the defence of their crown against Sweden in Salzburg.
Coach Otto Rehhagel has urged his players to “seize their opportunities” as the European champions begin the defence of their title against Sweden in Salzburg on Tuesday.
Greece’s German-born coach, Otto Rehhagel, has been in positive mood before the Group D encounter at the Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim.
“We have concluded our preparations and the tension is mounting. We are really looking forward to kicking off,” Rehhagel said. “The first couple of matches in the tournament have shown that this will be a great event because the teams appear to be in it with all their hearts.”
Rehhagel refused to discuss the likelihood of his side becoming the first to ever retain the trophy, but he sounded relaxed at the prospect of opening their campaign.
“Well, this summer I will have been Greece coach for seven years and this is already a record which I think will be difficult for anyone else to achieve,” Rehhagel said.
“But I know what my team are capable of, what opportunities we have – and what we must do now is seize these opportunities.”
Giorgios Karagounis has recovered from a knee problem and Rehhagel has no other injury concerns.
Sweden coach Lars Lagerback is are also looking to get off to a flying start, but the 59-year-old is well aware of the threat posed by the Greeks.
“I think it’s going to be a very even match,” he said. “We know Greece pretty well and I’m sure they know us too. They are very strong physically, have good variation in attack and, above all, they are good at set-pieces.”
Sweden were quarter-finalists at Euro 2004 – losing on penalties against Holland – before contesting the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup, where they fell to hosts Germany. They are the only country at this competition to have reached the knockout stages of the last three major tournaments, and as a result, expectations within the camp are high
“It’s quite natural for expectations to grow for us, because we want to have better results than we’ve had in the past, but of course it’s important to be realistic as well,” added Lagerback. “I think it’s going to be a tight group but we feel we have a good chance to progress.”
Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are expected to start up front for Sweden, although Ibrahimovic (swollen knee) is unlikely to last the full 90 minutes.
Tobias Linderoth is expected to play the holding role in midfield, despite question marks over his fitness.
“It is going to be a very physical match with the Greeks and I don’t know whether Ibra and Linderoth will be able to play for 90 minutes at this level,” added Lagerback.