Germany annihilated Greece 4-2 in the second quarter final of the UEFA Euro 2012. Goals from Lahm, Khedira, Klose and Reus saw the Germans through to the final four of the competition.
It was a game whose build-up was more than two sets of fans painting their faces with national colours, flocking the bars of Poland and singing songs they came up with in the bus. Germany versus Greece had a much stronger, serious political/economic base to it. So strong that it invited the chancellor, Angela Merkel, to the stands just to see a different flavour between the two countries.
Greece have never won against a German national side in 52 years. But, ahead of this game, anyone who is aware of the fact that the Greeks carry a certain degree of unpredictability about themselves, would refuse to etch a prediction on stone.
The 4-2 victory last night in Gdansk is the perfect example of the kind of threat Germany carry with them and why they are tournament favourites in the same measure as Spain. Not only did Joachim Low make bold changes to his starting XI, the players fielded had the same mentality and game plan as the previously, relatively unchanged German line-ups in this tournament. This now sends out a message to England/Italy about the depth and the confidence that Low has in his players.
Greece have themselves to blame for the preparation they did prior to the game. Losing your captain due to suspension when you are heading towards the quarterfinal to face one of the biggest powerhouses in world football is fool-hardy. On the brighter side of things, Greece had lost just twice in 24 games since coach Fernando Santos took over from Otto Rehhagel; so, there was still hope that the Greeks could shut the Germans out. Sadly, it wasn’t going to be this way.
First Half – Germany Pile on the Pressure
‘Attack!’ was the name of the game for Germany, right from kick-off. The presence of Bastian Schweinsteiger a little more deep gave even Sami Khedira the license to move ahead and join the attack. The Real Madrid midfielder almost aided in Germany’s first goal when his long range shot was fumbled by Greece goalkeeper Safikis, allowing Schurrle to come in from an offside position and tap in a disallowed goal.
Marco Reus was proving to be a menace for much of the first half, narrowly missing from a half-volley and mistiming his shot from a Mesut Ozil pass in the box. Ozil’s presence consequently involved Reus more in the game, taking care of Germany’s attack from the right.
While Joachim Low’s side took the game to the Greeks, at one particular moment, defensive midfielder Katsouranis found Salpingidis who made a clever run ahead of the two German center-backs. Had it not been for Neuer’s timely intervention, Greece would have drawn first blood.
Germany though, were unshaken. They were looking to slowly crumble the Greek squad before unleashing themselves with more force. Finally, in the 39th minute, you could see the German captain Philipp Lahm, at the corner of your screens, firing another blinder from his gamut, and with that, giving Germany the lead.
Second Half – Effective German Attack Leads to Futile Greece Revival
Greece had to act quick as they realized their vulnerable position. Germany were beginning to see holes in their defence and the Greeks had to not only cover-up, but also had to draw level in order to keep their Euro hopes alive.
After an inept first half performance, the Greeks pulled their socks up and decided to make their chances count. They were rightly rewarded with a delightful finish from Giorgos Samaras. The former Manchester City striker got the better of Jerome Boateng to slot home a low ball from Salpingidis on the right.
Hopes were rekindled, faces were animated yet again at PGE Arena as the Greeks equalized. But, happiness, as they say, is shortlived. Germany continued to stick to their game, knowing that they have the upper hand over Greece and to put it in simple words, it paid off.
After barely five minutes since Fernando Santos’ side equalized, Germany came back with a bang as Sami Khedira fired in a volley off Jerome Boateng’s cross. Although Greece replied swiftly with a long range effort from Gekas going off the mark, it was evident to many that the team didn’t have it in them to come back into the game a second time.
This was the moment Germany were waiting for. And they capitalized on it, rightly so. In the 68th minute, Ozil’s free kick found the head of Polish-born Miroslav Klose, who scored his 64th international goal on home ground. Poor marking in the box and even poor goalkeeping by Safikis were the reasons behind this goal.
Six minutes later, another Klose shot was blocked by Safikis, although this time he had to come out quite some distance to defend his goal. Unfortunately, the ball ricocheted off him and to the boot of Marco Reus who finished the job with panache! The 23 year-old Borussia Dortmund striker proved the level of talent in the German squad as he delivered the final knock-out punch to send Greece crashing out.
A penalty in the 87th minute courtesy a hand ball by Jerome Boateng only made for a more respectable scoreline from Greece’ point of view.
Yes, Germany have proven to be a raging bull in this competition. Their demolition of Greece sure does rule out Spain as clear favourites. However, each team has its flaws and Germany should be focusing more on erasing them out as they prepare themselves for the semifinal.
While the attack is in good stead, the German defense needs to be a little more alert. Switching off and on at times could prove lethal for the Mannschaft. England and Italy are teams that can be quick on the counter and it is important that the German defense stays on its toes to shut either of them out.
Greece need not fear any opposition. They are well aware of the threat they bring to any game. If they could score two goals on a night which saw them depart the Euros, they could have given themselves a better start and scored maybe a couple more.
Pumping in young blood has been incentive for several national teams now and Greece could do the same. The average age of the five strikers combined is 30 while the average of the midfield is close to 27. This clearly indicates the work required to prepare a new force before the next international tournament kicks-off.