For those of you joining us at Act Two in this Greek tragedy that follows the National Football Team through its storyline of Euro 2012, a short plotted history of events so far:
Act One against the joint host nation Poland revealed our hero, the defining role in all tragedies was fulfilled by one Dimitris Salpingidis, introduced for the second half of Act One. Dimitris almost single handily dragged Act One back in favour of the Greeks, securing a point when at half time all seem lost.
Crucial other elements of a tragedy were also borne out in Act One, the fatal flaw, prevalent in all hero’s showed up once again as the team failed to show any real goal threat, the Greek frontline ensuring this flaw stayed as an ongoing part of the script. We had calamity with a Polish goal keeper, fate when a penalty was missed and a second half fight back that showed some honour amongst the team, a mandatory element of all tragedies.
So the plot for our tragedy was set up during Act One, if the Greek side wanted Euro 2012 to be longer than a trilogy, then events in Act Two against the Czech Republic had to end with the opportunity of still having something to play for in Act Three. A victory would be the best result, a draw not a total tragedy, defeat would probably mean the final Act being played out with little to play for and a diminishing audience.
Interestingly enough only one Greek trilogy has survived the elements of time. The Oresteia written by Aeschylus is a three part tragedy that is themed around ending a curse. In Act Two “The Libation Bearers” events take a turn for the worse when the hero of the trilogy Orestes, has to turn to murder in his continued attempts to beat the curse. We are of course not expecting anything quite so drastic in our own trilogy, although with a country in financial meltdown, a suicidal looking manager and a nations fortunes resting on eleven men, let’s just hope Greece prevail!
Act Two Czech Republic
A change in the starting line up sees hero Dimitris starting Act Two, a defensive re-shuffle after the red card for Sokratis Papastathopoulos and injury to Avraam Papadopoulos in Act One, means Kyriakos Papadopoulos retain his place and also starting places for Fotakis and Fortounis. An attacking looking team as three points seems to be the only option on coach Fernando Santos mind. With the first choice central partnership not available though, will the Greek side show any new flaws, this time in defence?
In Act One we had to wait until the 67th minute before the introduction of any calamity, just to keep us all on the edge of our seats though the necessary calamity took place in the first six minutes of Act Two. The fear around new flaws at the back took that long to surface and by the time the clock ticked around to seven minutes, Greece found themselves two nil down with goals from Petr Jiracek & Vaclav Pilar for the Czech Republic. Total calamity in the Greece defence, ripped apart by sharp Czech play in front of goal and the re-collection of Act One, Scene One was back to haunt us.
Having slightly recovered from the appalling start, more fate was to reign down on the Greek side, goal keeper Kostas Chalkias coming off injured in the 23rd minute was confounded by another Greek goal being disallowed for offside before half time. Giorgos Fotakis’s header appeared to put Greece back in the game but like our hero Dimitris goal last week against Poland, it was disallowed despite replays suggesting Fotakis was level.
A trilogy is supposed to be three different parts of a tragedy/story, linked in the main to an overall plot/theme. Act Two seemed though to be almost a repeat of Act One at half time, the loss of a key part of the defence through injury, terrible defending and Greek honour at an all time low. Still if we were in for a repeat performance, a hero would emerge either from the wings in the second half, or current hero Dimitris would live up to his billing and start performing after the interlude.
As it happened a new hero emerged from the wings, one Fanis Gekas entered the arena on 46 minutes and looked like he might produce a “Dimitris”. An even more attacking formation saw Greece on the front foot with the Czech’s defending deeper and deeper. Fifty Three minutes on the clock, just three minutes later than Dimitris scored against Poland, new hero Gekas scored what will be his easiest international goal ever, when we had another element of calamity written into the script by a goal keeper. This time Chelsea & Czech Republic keeper Petr Cech somehow managed to not collect an easy through ball, swipe it into the path of Gekas, who placed the ball into an empty net.
All thoughts of a trilogy disappeared, a repeat performance would be acceptable now, as long as Greece avoided defeat we may even go beyond a trilogy and start moving towards a Satyr, the fourth not so well known element of a trilogy, which can only be discussed once Greece have qualified from the group.
Despite having four strikers on the stage for the last twenty minutes, that flaw identified in our introductory blog, the one that has plagued this tragedy through the first two acts still couldn’t be overcome by any of our hero’s. Greece devoid of ideas, the Czech’s happy to sit on their lead, the game once again ended disappointingly. The elusive goal to gain a point never looked like coming and once again the lack of goals, the flaw in this team, meant Greece now find themselves on the verge of going home, honour being questioned and a return to reality for a battered nation.
Change of Fortune
This tragedy sometimes still surprises you, the change of fortune which we thought had somehow not been included in Act Two, came after the game had finished. The events in Warsaw, where most Greece followers felt that Russia would overcome joint hosts Poland and qualify for the next stage, didn’t turn out as planned. A 1-1 draw means that Greece have a lifeline, they have to beat Russia in Act There preferably by a few goals but their fate appears to be back In their own hands. The group is now tighter than it seemed after the game against the Czech Republic.
Act Three Russia
So on to Act Three against Russia in Warsaw on Saturday. In The Oresteia, Act Three is all about Orestes facing up to his crimes and a judgement made on whether he should pay for them. Not unlike the Greece team then, who will have to face up to their own historical flaw and overcome it in a game that they have to score goals in. Failure to do so and the judgement might go as well as Orestes did, I’ll let you know his fate at the weekend after Act Three.
In the continued words of Aristotle: For men are good in but one way, but bad in many.
Something those Polish and Russian fans should think about after events in Warsaw tonight brought the game back into disrepute.