Greece boss Michael Skibbe is sweating over the fitness of Borussia Dortmund centre-half Sokratis Papastathopoulos amidst a minor defensive crisis in his World Cup Playoff squad.
Sokratis lasted just 42 minutes in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich on the weekend, casting a cloud of doubt over his availability for the first leg of the World Cup Playoff against Croatia on Thursday.
Add that to a first-leg suspension for AS Roma’s Kostas Manolas, who received a retroactive ban from FIFA by deliberately seeking a yellow card in the Cyprus vs. Greece qualifier last month, and Greece’s first-choice defensive partnership could both be missing in their most important game of the year.
Experienced full-back Vassilis Torosidis is another doubt to add to Michael Skibbe’s list, but the German has compensated by calling up two additional defenders: Panathinaikos’ Dimitris Kolovetsios and SPAL’s Marios Oikonomou.
Greece travel to Zagreb for the first leg on Thursday before a return leg in Athens on Sunday.
Greece World Cup Playoff Squad
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis, Stefanos Kapino, Giannis Anestis
Defenders: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kostas Manolas, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis, Kostas Stafylidis, Marios Oikonomou, Dimitris Kolovetsios, Georgios Tzavellas, Panagiotis Retsos, Charalampos Lykogiannis
Midfielders: Andreas Samaris, Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Giannis Maniatis, Zeca, Alexandros Tziolis, Dimitrios Kourmpelis, Kostas Fortounis, Dimitris Pelkas, Anastasios Bakasetas, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos
Forwards: Kostas Mitroglou, Dimitrios Diamantakos, Giannis Gianniotas, Apostolos Vellios