Athens: Greece lack a prolific scorer and rely heavily on goals from midfield plus set pieces which means much is expected of Sotiris Ninis, sometimes described as their diamond in the rough.     

Panathinaikos favourite Ninis, and Olympiakos Piraeus winger Giannis Fetfatzidis, could play vital roles in Greece's bid to  progress in Euro 2012.     

Once the subject of a projected nine million euros ($11.25 million) move to Manchester United, Ninis is still only 22, having twice been voted Greece's Young Footballer of the Year at the age of 17 and 20.     

Such has been his impact on the Greek domestic game that he seems to have been around much longer.   

Having started last season in blistering form, the right-sided midfielder's contribution came to a halt when he suffered a serious knee injury in a qualifier with Israel in September.     

He damaged cruciate ligaments moments after scoring a spectacular solo goal and his absence has been a real blow for club and country.     

However, his absence did not prevent Greece clinching qualification with a victory against group favourites Croatia. Ninis returned to action in March and the Greeks are hoping he can reach his early-season heights in time for the Euros.     

Born in the Albanian town of Himare to Greek parents, Ninis was first called up to the senior team as an 18-year-old for a friendly against Cyprus in 2008, scoring on his debut.      

He was selected for the 2010 World Cup but former coach Otto Rehhagel appeared reluctant to put his faith in him. He questioned his defensive work-rate and Ninis made only two substitute appearances in South Africa for a total of 41 minutes.      

Ninis was eventually promoted to the starting lineup by new manager Fernando Santos after Greece drew their opening two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Georgia and Croatia and the move immediately paid dividends, his selection coinciding with a run of five successive wins.     

An elegant playmaker with a keen eye for a defence-splitting pass, the creative probing of Ninis could prove decisive for Greece. Despite his 1.73 metres frame, Ninis also possesses the ability to score spectacular goals from distance, a weapon Greece will need if they are to trouble their opponents.     

Greek Messi     

Then there is the enigma of Fetfatzidis.     

One year junior to Ninis and even shorter at 1.68 metres, Fetfatzidis is more an explosive out-and-out winger than midfield schemer.      

He made his debut in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, coming on to replace Ninis in a 1-0 win against Latvia in October 2010. He scored his first international goal in February last year in a friendly against Canada that Greece won 1-0.     

Often referred to as the "Greek Messi" by fans and media due to his close ball control and skill, the highlight of his club season was a superb volley at the Stade Velodrome which earned Olympiakos a 1-0 Champions League win at Olympique Marseille.     

He produced a dribbling masterclass against Malta in June when he scored twice to leave the Greek media in raptures.      

His form emphasised why Olympiakos signed him up to an improved contract in September 2010, increasing his wages and inserting a 12.5 million euros release clause.     

Despite his obvious talent, Fetfatzidis has blew hot and cold in the second half of the season. His inconsistency led club coach Ernesto Valverde and Santos to keep him on the bench.

He is likely to find himself in a similar position at the Euro 2012 finals where he may be used as an impact player to change a game if Greece need attacking inspiration.


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