Today in Portugal, the Greek National Football Team drew with their Portuguese opposite, 0-0, in a poorly played World Cup tune up. Both teams were playing at three-quarters speed, intent more in keeping players active and in form rather than in finding anything out about their current squads or the team’s potential for their trip to Brazil next month.
The hosts were playing without Cristiano Ronaldo who is still nursing a leg injury. His absence was evident as Portugal, who had the lion’s share of possession, could not muster enough offense both in terms of quantity and quality of opportunities both also, most notably, in their inability to put the ball on frame.
The Greeks were playing their usual defensive game with the occasional counter, but the Portuguese defense was simply too good for their opponent’s rare forays. This occurred despite the fact that a number of the host’s defenders, Coentrao and Pepe among them, sat the game out.
The opportunities were few and far between, most for the Portuguese, and rarely any for Greece. The only noticeable strategic lessons were perhaps taken by the Greeks, who found that they could keep their more powerful opponents off the scoreboard despite playing with a few key absences themselves.
On Paulo Bento’s bench the only thing he could possibly take away from this match was that his reserves, and the few starters he used, were good enough to keep Greece at bay while giving his side a chance to win. When his starters are ready and able this will be a very different team indeed.
For Greece the bad news is that with their few missing players added in little difference could ensue since their absences were almost all defensive. In a group with Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan, the Greeks have a chance to advance, but this performance was not convincing.
Unfortunately, as this game was going on, injury news from the Mexico-Ecuador game in Texas made clear that Mexican midfielder Luis Montes had fractured his tibia and was thus ruled out of the World Cup. Similarly, in the Italy-Northern Ireland in London, Italian midfielder, Riccardo Montolivo fractured his tibia and was also ruled out of the cup for Italy.