Greece, feeling like a pinata, seek respect

Euro 2012 quarter-finalists Greece have had enough of eurozone jokes as well as the ridicule and sharp criticism of their playing style and they are seeking respect ahead of their match against Germany.

The Greeks have had to endure a flood of negative media copy despite battling through Group A with a 1-0 win over favourites Russia to set up a last-eight clash with the three-times champion Germans.

Whether it is the Italian Rai TV commentator's expletive-laden description of Greece causing a stir or German football association officials privately demanding a goal-fest against the eurozone's problem child, Greece must be feeling like a pinata at a children's party.

Comic strips depicting a Greek player snatching the referee's coin at the toss-up before the start of a game and shouting "a euro" are a daily occurrence.

"Greece are a shit team, a shit team," said a Rai commentator before the broadcaster went to half-time commercials and seconds after Greece had scored what proved to be the winning goal in first-half stoppage time against the Russians.

A Germany football association official (DFB), on the flight back from Lviv after their 2-1 win over Denmark, even privately said whether it was now time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to attend the game in Gdansk "to stick it into them."

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent years due to a Berlin-backed austerity plan and German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble even called Greece "a bottomless pit."

Comments regarding the quality of their football have not been much kinder.

"People have been slinging mud at us and we are very sad about what has been said. Against Russia we managed to silence them. Now we must keep quiet and keep working," defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos said.

Keeping quiet would be a wise course of action for a team who qualified undefeated for the tournament, conceding only five goals as any other reaction would merely be a distraction.

"The Greeks deserve more respect," said their coach, Portuguese Fernando Santos. "We all need to pay a bit more respect to them. It is not appropriate for others to give lessons to the Greeks."