Pitch, not politics the focus v Germany -- Greece
Greece on Tuesday played down any wider political significance of their Euro 2012 quarter-final tie against Germany, insisting that they will be more concerned about their opponents on the pitch.
Giorgos Samaras and Kyriakos Papadopoulos echoed Germany's Lars Bender by saying Greek disaffection at German attempts to impose harsh public sector cuts to curb spiralling debt had no part to play in Friday's match in Gdansk, northern Poland.
"We cannot entangle football and politics. It is bad to do that. Football is a game and we will play to enjoy it because we like it," Celtic forward Samaras told a news conference at the team's base near the Polish capital, Warsaw.
"We are not only playing for ourselves but for the 11 million Greeks back home. We managed to bring them joy by beating Russia and we hope to do the same on Friday," the 27-year-old added.
The Germany-Greece match is being billed as the "Debt Derby" by some, with widespread concern about the effect of Greece's dire financial straits on the eurozone -- and the Berlin-led battle to save it.
But Papadopoulos said that his team's close ties to Germany on the pitch will be an advantage.
"Certainly it is an advantage for some of the players on our team who play in the Bundesliga to be more knowledgeable about the players on the German team," said Papadopoulos, who plays for Schalke 04 in Germany.
"But we will face Germany, as we do every team, giving our best and hoping to win."
Samaras said that Greece had already achieved their goal of qualifying for the knock-out stages, which proves "we are among the eight best teams in Europe".
"Now we want to enjoy the tournament. If we advance further, it would be a dream but we cannot compare the current team with that of 2004 and our success."
Captain and 2004 veteran Giorgos Karagounis, for one, is out of the side through suspension after arguing with the referee over a penalty appeal in Greece's last match against Russia in Warsaw.
Samaras refused to divulge how coach Fernando Santos has been preparing them to take on Joachim Loew's much-fancied side, saying only that they had been keeping a close eye on them during the group stages.
"Everyone knows how good Germany is. We have to focus on our play, how we will be better and how we can best achieve the result we want. This is what we did with Russia," said Samaras.
Papadopoulos, who missed the Greeks' second game against the Czech Republic through injury, indicated that the team will not hold back.
"We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best teams in the tournament. We will give our best and hope to succeed. Anything we gain from here on will be even greater," he told reporters.
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