Tsartas: “This Greece lacks personality” | Sports

Vassilis Tsartas (Alexandria, Greece; 48) was capped 70 times by the Hellenic national team (12 goals). Euro 2004 champion, he answers the phone in perfect Spanish, which he learned during his spell in Seville between 1996 and 2000, where he played 140 league matches and scored 44 goals. Fine midfield scorer, Tsartas analyzes the duel against the Spanish team.

Interrogate. What is Vassilis Tsartas doing today?

Answer. I studied and prepared intensely to wait for my opportunity and to be able to train.

P How do you see the game between Greece and Spain?

R It’s a very important match for both of them and neither of them has a World Cup ticket. Spain have been the favorites in the group from the start and now we have to fight with our chances to try to win a game which will be very difficult for us. There is a distance between the two teams, but in football we know that anything can happen. In the first round we drew in Spain and we only lost one game, although we drew which we could have won. There is no turning back for Greece. You have to go out to win, with your head, without madness, something that can have bad consequences for Greece. It will be a very tactical game. The two won’t risk much at first. As the game progresses, the teams will speed up to at least score whatever goal the game can give them.

P How is this Greek team?

R It is a selection that is still under construction. He has good footballers and a Dutch coach [John van ‘t Schip] with a mentality that I love. It’s not easy to make a competitive team and to return to the maturity that the team had from 2004 to 2014, a decade in which the Greek team showed a high level with frequent appearances in the final stages and a title in 2004. We have six or seven years to find our identity. Now we have a team that plays well, which lacks a bit of personality to know how to manage matches, especially when they are late on the scoreboard. In the last game against Sweden, we saw it. We had a great first half, but in the second, when Sweden scored, everything fell apart. We didn’t know how to react and with 2-0 it was all over. The team needs to work hard on the mental aspect so that when they’re down they can react and turn things around.

P Is this team in the style of the one that won the 2004 European Championship?

R I don’t like comparisons. Each team has its characteristics. It’s not fair to compare. To form a competitive team capable of achieving great things, you need to have a bit of everything, then bring it together and control it. This team, at the moment, doesn’t have the personality to beat rivals like Kosovo on a bad day. We should have won draws and now we are missing those points. We are obliged to win the remaining two games and this obligation is not easy. Classifications must be resolved first. When only a win against a team like Spain is worth it, it’s not easy. Let’s see if the team is able to achieve this necessary intensity. In Greece, always, against teams like Spain or Sweden, before having a bad night, the Greek footballer brings out his passion and his pride. This characterizes us. Spain will not have a quiet or comfortable night. I hope that if the coach has all his players in good condition, the team against Spain can look Spain in the eye and achieve victory.

P When will we see a champion Greece like yours?

R It takes a lot of time. We have a lot of problems to win a European Championship again. We have to get the Greek players out, we have to trust them and bring them in, let them play. You have to leave the country and go to high-level leagues so that later a coach can combine all that with those here and in the end get the most out of it.

P Did Otto Rehhagel, the coach with whom they won the European Championship, do it?

R Yes, a coach with a lot of personality who was fundamental, but we had a very competitive team. Of the 23 of us who were in Portugal and won the European Championship, 15 had already played or were playing abroad. It gave us a lot of advantages to not be afraid of the rival, always respect, but never be afraid. Before, we were afraid of rivals, more respect than reason. Before, playing against Spain, we had been satisfied with a narrow defeat. When the Greek players came out to compete and play in Spain, France, England, Germany or Italy, everything changed. Then there were those who competed in Greece in the big teams. We put together a great team and did what we did. We look our rivals in the eye. Now the team can compete with Spain, but there is still fear.

P What is John van’t Schip’s proposal with Greece?

R He has the mentality of Dutch football. Try, within the capabilities of the players and within the limits of the choices they have, to play football, build the game from behind, gradually gaining yards to take the ball. He tries, but we don’t have Busquets, for example. In addition, Spain, if they don’t have Busquets, they have Rodri. We lack team depth. Luis Enrique has many more alternatives.

P What atmosphere awaits Spain?

R The stadium in which the match is being played (Athens Olympics, 75,000 spectators) is too big. The selection does not convince as long as the field is filled. We only have 60% of people vaccinated and the rules say only those who have been vaccinated or those who have already had the coronavirus disease can come to the stadium and can prove it. It’s the only way to get to the stadium. This will affect people’s attendance at the stadium. Also Friday is working. There will be free entry.

P Which Greek national team players stand out?

R There are young players growing up. There is a player who plays for Panathinaikos, Aleksandropoulos, in whom I believe a lot. A player who has the qualities to be a great footballer, but that depends on a lot of factors. To go far, you have to be very strong mentally. Olympiacos have a player that I also like, Masouras, who has a goal. And then there’s Tsimikas, a Liverpool winger. a bit more. There are not many levels.

P What stage is Greek football at?

R There are good games, but people don’t trust what’s going on right now. The mirror is Europe and we don’t have teams in the Champions League or the Europa League. This affects the competitiveness of our teams. If you have a strong league, you can see it in European matches. Now there are two speeds. One is the Greek League and another speed is when the Greek teams play in Europe, they are on another level. Things are not like before, with teams that have played in the Champions League and the Europa League.

P In Greece, do the usual big teams still reign?

R Olympiacos remains more or less the same; Panathinaikos has its ups and downs; AEK fell to a far inferior Bosnian side and are out of Europe. Panathinaikos is trying to find its footballing identity. Volos are a surprise team coached by Guillermo Abascal, a young Spanish coach, who plays good football. The Aris started with six points less because of a penalty and little by little they are gaining the lost space. There isn’t much else. The Greek teams are in a situation of mediocrity.

P And what is the problem with Greek football?

R The problem is the managers. There is a very important detail. Only 10 Greek players start between PAOK, Panathinaikos, Olympiacos and AEK. Without Greek players in the big teams so they can compete strongly, it’s impossible for the national team to call them up. They don’t compete at a high level. Players who do it abroad don’t do it in teams like we did in our time. If you add all that up, you explain why the selection is not at a high level. The coach cannot call players from lower teams. It is very difficult for him.

P Spain arrives with many losses and plays it. It is no longer the great team of a few years ago.

R Yes, but it’s a generational change. Those behind must arrive and it takes time to reassemble a powerful team. This is a change that happens in all teams. You have to give Luis Enrique and the players time to grow. Spain has a great depth of footballers that Greece does not have. I really like Dani Olmo.

P What does it mean to you to continue to have the affection of Sevilla supporters?

R Well, I’m very excited. The people of Seville show me all the time and that’s something that makes me feel good. I am proud to have spent four years there. I have very good memories and I am very happy that Sevilla is now one of the greats of Spanish and European football. It is early to analyze if he is a candidate for the title, but without a doubt he is part of the group that can claim it.

You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES on Facebook Yes Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Leave a Comment