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Will Greece's Soccer Dream Go Up in Smoke?

The coach of Euro 2012's dark horses deploys a questionable tactical weapon.

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Santos, reflecting on tactics Photo via

By Will Godfrey

06/22/12

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Greece's soccer coach has unveiled a surprising weapon in his bid to outsmart some mighty opponents: cigarettes. Germany and Greece clash today in a quarter final of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament that many will view in the context of the nations' current political antagonism over austerity and bail-outs. Does cash-strapped Greece owe its disapproving major creditor a coveted semi-final place? The Germans are heavy favorites to grab it anyway, with Greece—who were never supposed to progress this far in the competition—quoted at around a 10-1 shot to beat them. Grilled by German journalists yesterday, Greece coach Fernando Santos came clean about his smoking habit. "I smoke because I like it. When I stop liking it, I'll quit," said the defiant 57-year-old, denying that his players had any right to be concerned. He then elaborated on why he sees cigs as a help, not a hindrance: "Maybe because I think about the tactics so much is the reason I smoke. I have to try to find the right options and tactics and when I smoke I have more time to reflect. So now, you maybe understand why I smoke so much." His tactical reflections will need to be profound to get him through this game unscathed. Then again, the link between smoking and memory decline could ride to his rescue—if his team receives the thrashing that some soccer pundits anticipate.

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