Coach Otto Rehhagel defended his defensive tactics in the wake of Greece’s 2-0 defeat to Sweden in their opening Euro 2008 game.
Rehhagel employed a five-man defence against the Swedes, and his side appeared solely concerned with containment until they fell behind to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second half strike.
“If we had employed a different tactic we would have conceded five goals by half-time. But it was level at half-time,” said the German-born coach.
“I did what I thought was right. But if we play like that we won’t win the tournament again.
“I didn’t want my defenders to keep the ball at the back for an extended period of time, I didn’t want them to do that.
“We still had the opportunity to win after half-time but we have to admit Sweden won the tackles and had the upper hand.
“They simply played too quickly and our midfield play took too long.”
Rather than question his own strategy, Rehhagel blamed a lack of passion from his side for the defeat.
“The Greeks didn’t play with heart like they normally do, and the Swedes pushed us hard,” said Rehhagel.
“Some players were unable to play at the level I expected. They tried hard but it wasn’t enough,” said the German.
The holders now face Russia in their next game on 14 June before meeting Spain four days later and Rehhagel knows his team will need to improve if they wish to reach the quarter-finals.
“The first half didn’t go as we planned – we didn’t play high enough up the pitch and then we lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a moment, which left us a goal down,” he added.
“We will have to show a tougher side of us in the next match.”