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Greece plan on making tonight’s World Cup play-off against Croatia the most boring game of all time

Michael Skibbe is expected to name an ultra defensive line-up in Zagreb

Tonight four countries teams whose World Cup fate remains undecided lock horns.

Northern Ireland host Switzerland while Greece travel to Croatia and in time-honoured tradition, the Greeks are planning on turning the play-off into a proper snoozefest.

The Euro 2004 winners have long been proud of their defensive qualities and have had success with their unattractive philosophy.

You shall not pass!

Reuters
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You shall not pass!

This evening their approach will be no different.

Manager Michael Skibbe is expected to name a starting eleven containing four centre-backs by trade, as well as two full-backs and two defensive midfielders.

In a move that will have Portuguese citizens suffering post-traumatic stress from 2004, Greece are preparing to park the bus like it’s never been parked before.

Pundits are predicting a 4-4-2 formation with full-backs acting as ultra defensive ‘wingers’ and two holding midfielders shielding four at the back.

Olympiakos’ Kostas Fortounis and Marseille new boy Konstantinos Mitroglou are likely to be the only two Greek players on the pitch with any attacking instincts whatsoever.

And even they will be expected to put a shift in

AFP
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And even they will be expected to put a shift in

Naming four centre-backs would be an impressive show of near-petty defiance given that Kostas Manolas is suspended.

The Roma defender is suspended for deliberately attempting to get himself a booking so he would miss Greece’s walkover against Gibraltar rather than their qualifier — cruel irony.

Skibbe is understandably annoyed at being without his best player for the crucial first leg in Croatia.

“What FIFA did was not right,” he said. “FIFA sometimes takes some ‘special’ decisions. And this is ‘special’

Missing

Getty Images - Getty
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Missing

“I do not know how that was decided. We were ahead of Cyprus 2-1 and in the last few minutes every team around the world lets some players get a yellow card for delaying.

“So Manolas got a yellow card and did not play against Gibraltar. And now FIFA has decided four weeks later to punish him for something that all players do.”

Good luck, Luka…

AFP or licensors
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Good luck, Luka…

Mario Mandzukic is a doubt for the hosts but Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic are all expected to start.

Croatia’s talented midfield has the unenviable task of trying to find space and pick holes in Greece’s densely-populated half.

This fixture may not be one for the neutrals.

And why do we suddenly get the feeling Tony Pulis has Greek ancestry?


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