It was the game that every football writer wanted to divert their attention too. The irony of this game with the political backdrop has had hacks falling over themselves to come up with the best headline, the best financial similarity to the game or researched David and Goliath stories.
Once this fixture became a reality, this writer knew that the previous space in the Greece press box would no longer be quite so evident, add to that the fear that I may also fall for the inevitable temptation to jump on board the financial gravy train quote, it was clear this blog would need to be written once the dust had settled on events in Gdansk and not shaped by world events.
Temptation has been resisted, you won’t find any financial undertones here, if you want clever links like the fact that Germany had 70% possession in the first half, which is probably the equivalent of how much of Greece they own, then look elsewhere for we were promised a satyr play to end this Greek tragedy.
For those of you who have followed the Greek tragedy to this point, you will know the next instalment and the traditional end to a Greek trilogy which centred on the group games, is a satyr play.
A satyr play in Greek trilogy concluded the tension and sometimes gloomy tragedies with a spirited performance that had a history of including comedy, drunkenness, brazen sexuality, pranks, sight gags, shocks and general merriment! Surely all the ingredients the Greece public require as a diversion to the daily austerity in their lives.
So did the play live up to expectations, did our Greek players Karagounis, Dimitris and Gekas all past heroes of the tragedies, Poland, Czech Republic and Russia continue to keep the crowds on the edge of their seats in this final curtain merriment………
It appeared coach Fernando Santos had taken lead role is this final act, his team selection included only one previous hero, Dimitris playing a lone role up front while Gekas was dropped to the bench and skipper Karagounis unavailable through suspension.
Surely this was the prank, a cunning tactic devised by Santos to make the Germans believe that Greece were going to flood the midfield, sit back, soak up the pressure, hit them on the break or take the game to penalties. A little mind game before the game started, false sense of security and a vital ingredient to our play.
If this prank was to work what better than to carry out the illusion at least for the first ten minutes, even let in a goal after three minutes (ruled out for offside)then surely the merriment could start and the Greeks would start to advance on the German penalty box.
Thirty eight minutes into this play and the prank still goes on, as a show its becoming a little predictable, the Greek fans look uneasy, faith in the prank is wearing a little thin. Enter Santos with the next ingredient….. a sight gag. Whatever he said to Maniatis from the touchline just moments before Lahm’s goal obviously chuckled the midfield man so much he forgot his part of the script, allowing the German fullback to stroll forward and belt the ball into the net.
Are we still sticking to the script, is this one of those Greek tragedy performances witnessed in the trilogy when Part Two is always better. As pranks go, it’s certainly the long con, Santos will surely tear up the script at half time if he wants the Greek audience to stay on side.
Santos is back to his best, two substitutions at half time, hero of Act Two Gekas back on, formation changed and the prank about to be turned on the German defence, let the merriment begin.
Fifty four minutes and Samaras scores to level the game, the look of shock on the face of German Coach Joachim Loew was enough to make this play worth coming out for. Santos is a genius, play the prank game for 54 minutes, hit back and then pile forward in an attempt to win the game in front of a an adoring audience.
The celebrations post the Greek goal also added another ingredient of our satyr play, we needed some sexual connotations! With the cameras focused on the Greek audience, we found it. Standing in the crowd looking like a Greek goddess, the type of girl you would lay down and die for brightened up our screens and made you want to book a holiday to Greece.
Comedy script writing must be Santos greatest skill, he has pulled the prank back out the bag, Greece are sitting back again, content now they are level. Thirty minutes to go in this relatively predictable play but Santos has his actors all lined up again to form a defensive wall.
Seven minutes later and no one’s laughing anymore, surely Santos has used this prank once too often, the opposition have sussed it this time and Greece are 3-1 down after goals from Khedira and Klose.The joke has backfired and the Greek crowd no longer look like they are enjoying themselves. Six minutes later and its 4-1, Reus scores and with only 17 minutes left of the play it starts to feel more like a tragedy than the satyr we were promised.
Full time and a 4-2 defeat, a late penalty for Greece converted by former hero Dimitris hardly brings a ripple of applause as the Greek paying public realise that this satyr play will never feature high in the ratings. All that is left to complete the ingredients of this play is the drunkenness and for that we pass over to the Greek supporters both in Gdansk and at home, as this is surely all that is left to try and forget this performance. While the Greek fans look into their glasses for solitude, they may want to contemplate why teams including their own decide that on a huge stage like Euro12, they decide to play a negative, unattractive style that shows no courage and normally ends in defeat.
The alternative option of playing some football, playing the game the way it’s meant to be played can so often lead to much more positive results and at least gives you the honour of saying we gave it a go. Just a little more courage is all we asked to ensure this tournament went down in history. The prank didn’t come off and we all ended up leaving the theatre wondering if it ever will again.
So as this writer prepares to retire his Greece pen and the fans of Greece go back to austerity and economic hardship, I would like to thank the Greeks for giving me this opportunity, we had some fun along the way, we learnt all about Greek history and witnessed all the vital elements of a Greek tragedy along the way. At the final curtain the tragedy didn’t end well for our hero’s, the flaw was never overcome and the change of fortune and luck finally ran out through a lack of belief. The perfect tragedy.
Finally and for the last time we leave you with wise words from our friend Aristotle:
You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.