A pivotal match in Group G sees Slovakia visiting Greece, who are even with Bosnia and Herzegovia at the top of the group. With Slovakia already out of the running, will they even put up much of a fight against the Greeks? And how much will it matter, really, with Bosnia hosting tiny Liechtenstein, who have but three goals in all of qualifying? Unless Greece manage to jump the 15 goal difference between themselves and the Bosnians over the next two matches, it'll be the playoff round for them.
And considering Greece's playing style, a scenario involving them scoring more than 15 goals in two matches is about as difficult to imagine as ....SOMETHING GOES HERE ... They've scored but nine goals in eight matches thus far, with two goalless draws. Their biggest victory was the 2-0 win over Albania in the first round of qualification. Since then, it's been a spate of 1-0s.
Greece haven't changed their football in the decade since they won the Euros. If you watched them then, you don't need anyone to tell you how they're playing now. Yes, it's boring, but it's effective.
Then there's Slovakia. A dip in form and a lack of goals saw the repre falling further and further behind the Group G leaders. Then, after the 1-1 draw with Liechtenstein in June, Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp were dropped in favor of Ján Kozák as coach. A 1-1 draw in a friendly against Romania made many believe the new boss was the same as the old boss. Then along came Bosnia. An unbeaten Bosnia. Top of the group. Playing at home. And somehow, Slovakia won.
Not only that, but they did it in style, playing free flowing, attacking football that was much more captivating even than the show they put on in South Africa. It was some of the best football ever played by the young country, and they continued it on into the reverse fixture...when Bosnia came from behind to beat the tired Slovaks and destroy their dreams of seeing Brazil.
So it was too little, too late for Slovakia, which is unfortunate, particularly if we're stuck watching Greece playing group stage matches at 5 a.m. They'll be finishing out qualification without captain Marek Hamšík, who turned down his country's call in order to rest for domestic competition. If Slovakia are out to prove a point and take this match as an opportunity to continue revamping their style, they could prove a handful, even for ultra-defensive Greece. But if it's seen as a simple slog to get through on the way to preparing for Euro 2016, well, then it will be a slog for the rest of us to watch as well.
Match Date / Time: Friday, October 11 at 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis, Piraeus
Online: ESPN3 (USA)