Ireland will have spent much of the past few weeks preparing themselves for the difficulties posed by the immense heat of an Athens summer, as they look ahead to Friday night's huge EURO 2024 qualifier against Greece.
Temperatures can regularly soar above 30 degrees in Greece during the summer months, and Stephen Kenny led his Ireland team in a warm-weather training camp to prepare for the challenges posed by the potential weather conditions.
As the day has progressed in Athens, however, an entirely different kind of weather event has threatened to affect Friday's game.
Fans and reporters on the ground in Greece have shared video footage of torrential rain drenching the city, and reports from RTÉ at the ground suggest that the game could be in doubt due to the condition of the pitch.
Greece v Ireland: Concerns over pitch as Athens lashed with downpour
Early on Friday, footage began to pour in of the astonishing downpour which had taken over the city of Athens. An orange weather warning was put in place due to the severity of the thunderstorms.
— Gavin Cummiskey (@Cumoski) June 16, 2023
Rivers of flooding had popped up in the midst of a thunderstorm, with fans and media outlets alike sharing surreal videos of the scenes ahead of what was expected to be a sun-kissed match.
Mental thunderstorm in Athens at the moment. Hopefully clears before kick off 😬 pic.twitter.com/dt0aZt9bBp
— James O'Donoghue (@odonoghuejames) June 16, 2023
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 16, 2023
Tony O'Donoghue is in Athens with RTÉ, and he was one of the first to share the scenes from the newly opened opap Arena in north Athens that is scheduled to host tonight's game.
Not what we were expecting 🌧️ ⚡️ in Athens summer pic.twitter.com/3plro6yl3g
— Tony O'Donoghue (@Corktod) June 16, 2023
Reports began to flow through on RTÉ Radio that the game was in danger of being called off due to the condition of the pitch in the early evening on Friday.
RTÉ's John Kenny then tweeted saying "the pitch at the opop stadium was unplayable but it's starting to brighten up".
Heavy thunderstorms have swept across Athens. The pitch at the opop stadium was unplayable but it’s starting to brighten up so fingers x Greece v Republic of Ireland due to kick off at 9.45 pm local time @RTEsport
— john kenny (@JohnKennyMedia) June 16, 2023
Ireland will not have expected the weather to have affected them in this particular way, and we await official confirmation of whether the game will go ahead. The latest forecast suggests the worst of the rain has subsided so fingers crossed the game will go ahead as planned.
As it stands, Stephen Kenny's side are set to kick off against Greece at 7:45pm in Athens, with the game seen as a must-win for both sides, given the pedigree of the French and Dutch teams ahead of them in the group table.