Match Preview: Greece (a)

The Finland Football Show takes a quick look through the squad, the opponents and the local conditions ahead of Monday night’s game.

On Monday night travel to Greece to complete their schedule of matches in group J. With qualification already assured there is still much to play for, however, as a win against Greece would seed Finland into pot three for the euro 2020 draw. Kick-off is 21:45.

Squad: Markku Kanerva has no new injury concerns going into the final group game. Aside from a slightly bloody nose following the fan invasion there were no scares on the pitch. The big question is who will have recovered from the celebrations that followed. The stakes for Finland remain pretty high, the difference between Pot 3 and Pot 4 could be as drastic as facing Georgia in Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium instead of Portugal in Baku. On the pitch Pukki and Sparv were both brought off early on Friday night, providing most are over their jet lag, expect a very similar side to the one that made history in Helsinki.

Opponents: Johannes van’t Schip’s first international game was a 1-0 defeat in Tampere back in September, since then rough games against Liechtenstein and Greece followed, before a home win against Bosnia-Herzegovina, that helped put the Huuhkajat in the driving seat, and a narrow 1-0 win over Armenia on Friday. Just before that match, Olympiacos midfielder Kostas Fortounis was added to an injury list that already includes FC Copenhagen’s Zeca, Benfica’s Andreas Samaris, Arsenal and Napoli centre backs Sokratis and Kostas Manolas. With those injuries and van’t Schip’s patchy start, it is likely that the Olympic stadium in Athens will half full or less, while on the pitch cohesive play will arrive in fits and starts. The Greek success against Bosnia-Herzegovina was borne out of effective counter-attacking, but in periods when the home side were given space and time on the ball, often they did not know what to do with it. If Markku Kanerva’s usual away-game style continues it is likely that empty stadium will begin to echo and with the traveling fans still in a party mood, the pace of Soiri, Pukki and Tuominen is likely to cause a relatively inexperienced back-line a lot of trouble.

Previous: Last time out, a Teemu Pukki penalty was the difference between the two teams in a confusing encounter in which the visitors struggled to break us down.

P:17 W:6 D:3 L:8 GF:21 GA:27

Referee: Aleksey Yes’kov (RUS) – 41-year-old whistler from Russia, with decent champs league and international experience, though he didn’t make the cut for the 2018 world cup. 12 Reds in the last 50 games, first interaction with the Huuhkajat.

Broadcast: Live on Viafree, kisastudio starts at 21:00.

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