I thought it would be helpful to look back on the group matches before looking forward to the knockout round which start today. Looking back on all the group games, this blogger has selected one of the most memorable moments in the tournament on which to reflect.
Not many people expected Greece would beat Russia in the final game of Group A and qualify for the quarterfinals, well my girlfriend saw it coming but not many others. The Hellenic blue-white were as starved for goals as their economy is for cash. The defensive-minded Greeks needed to beat a surging Russian team and also continue to play its’ brand of stalwart defending.
Just before the first half concluded, the Greeks grabbed hold of those three points on a Giorgos Karagounis goal. It was amazing to see the counterattack pan out for a Greece team that seemed to be awfully close to giving up a Russian goal all half. The goal injected life into the team heading into half to continue its’ unwavering defending.
That beautiful strike that beat the Russian keeper low and to his left was not, however, the most memorable moment in the tournament for me. The most memorable moment would come later in the game when the goal-scoring Giorgos would be egregiously booked for diving in the box. Most firm-handed referees will signal for a flopping player to get up should they go down in the box and possibly give them a stare down, however the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson would have none of those deterrents and instead reached for his yellow card and booked the national hero Karagounis in the 60th minute. The salt in the proverbial wound stung when replays showed the Russian defender actually was at fault for taking the Greek goal scorer down by sticking out his leg once he was beaten.
Luckily, Greece would hold on to win and finish second in Group A, but the most memorable part of the upset and the entire group stage, for me at least, was the reaction of Giorgos after being booked unfairly and then the moments following when he realized that he was carrying a card into the match already and would miss the quarterfinal matchup against the winner of Group B should Greece hold on to win. Every fan watching at home, no matter their allegiance, spiraled down the emotional pitfall that Karagounis exhibited for the next five minutes of the match as he ran up and down the pitch. I was absolutely gutted for the guy and although I still feel badly for him having to sit out the quarterfinals, re-watching the display of emotions reminds us of how greatly invested the players on the pitch are for their national side.
Please enjoy the following .gifs to relive the agony that Karagounis felt after his harsh booking. It’s like a sad song that is terribly affecting but you’re better for knowing and singing along.
Amazing, isn’t it? Please share your favorite moments with us on Twitter or in the comments. Get ready for today, because it is the start of the Quarters!