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The relationship between Germany and Greece outside football is quite interesting at the moment, so everyone was expecting their Euro 2012 quarter-final clash with great interest. Was it going to be a real battle, how were the two teams going to approach the game?
The approach the two managers took to the game, especially Joachim Löw was kind of surprising, as he had decided to give a chance to Marco Reus, Andre Schürrle and Miroslav Klose in the starting lineup, while Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller remained on the bench.
The suspended Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis was replaced by Grigoris Makos, and Fernando Santos had chosen winger Sotiris Ninis instead of Fanis Gekas for this very important match.
The Germans started the game brightly and scored a ‘goal’ in the 3rd minute, but it was ruled out because of an offside decision made by the linesman. However, it has to be noted that this goal came after a shocking mistake by the keeper Michalis Sifakis and some bad defending from the players in front of him.
It wasn’t a surprise that Germany had more of the ball and were controlling the game, while the Greeks had more or less parked the bus and were relying on counter-attacks. In the first 25 minutes of the game Mesut Özil, Marco Reus, Klose and Schürrle had excellent chances to score, but none of them managed to convert.
After so much domination, a goal came in the end, but the scorer was a rather unexpected one. Philipp Lahm got the ball from Özil, darted off the left flank and beat Sifakis with a great swerving shot from the edge of the area, 1-0 Germany.
Thus the first part ended, a half that was largely dominated by Germany, and a half that showed us that Greece, sadly, are a rather average team that is nowhere near the level of the one that won the European Championship 8 years ago.
“Where’s the passion lads?” That what Fernando Santos probably told his players assertively in his half-time team talk (first and last Football Manager reference, I promise). The manager also made two chages, replacing Ninis and Giorgos Tzavellas with Gekas and Giorgos Fotakis. But to be fair, the Greeks really started the second half much better than they’d played the whole first, as they were obviously not happy with their performance so far.
And surprisingly to many, they equalized, the goal coming from none other but Giorgos Samaras. Dimitris Salpingidis burst down the right to latch onto sub Fanis Gekas’ clipped ball forward as the Greece counter-attacked. His sumptuous low cross to the far post found the Celtic striker who banged the ball in Neuer’s net. 55 minutes gone, Germany 1, Greece 1.
But their happiness didn’t last long, as Sami Khedira scored just 5 minutes later. Jerome Boateng crossed the ball, the Real Madrid midfielder caught it on the volley and Sifakis could do nothing but take the ball out of his net. A brilliant goal by the Germans which restored their lead, 2-1.
But one man still hadn’t scored, and he was desperately trying to do so. And he managed in the end! Yes, Miroslav Klose got his first goal of the tournament in the 68th minute. He headed in with relative ease at the near post from Mesut Özil’s delivery from a free-kick on the right flank. He reached the ball before Kyriakos Papadopoulos and goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis to put the ball into a virtually unguarded net. Very poor defending by the Greeks, and a deserved 3-1 lead for Germany.
That wasn’t everything though, as Marco Reus, who had an amazing game, also got a goal in his first start for the national team. Miroslav Klose latched onto Mesut Özil’s through pass, forcing Michalis Sifakis into a save, but the ball broke back to Marco Reus who crashed it in off the crossbar, 4-1.
In between these goals the Germans had even more chances, but luck or Sifakis saved their opponents from an even more humiliating defeat. Greece really started the second half very well, and had their 15 minutes of glory, but once Khedira scored the second goal for Die Mannschaft they just couldn’t cope with the pressure to find another equalizer.
Galanolefki at least got another goal, when the Slovenian referee Skomina awarded a somewhat controversial penalty after the ball hit Jerome Boateng’s arm in the box. Dimitris Salpingidis coolly converted in the 88th minute, and that was the last notable action of the game.
A deserved 4-2 victory for Joachim Löw and his boys, and they’ll now wait to see which of Italy or England they’ll face in the semi-final in Warsaw next week. I really want to say that Greece have nothing to be ashamed of, but the truth is they were really poor for big parts of the game. Their second half performance was more or less OK, because at least they were trying hard, but in the first part they were abysmal. But the important question now is- can Germany actually win the thing? They deserve to, but we’ll know with certainty in 10 days time.
Germany 4-2 Greece (HT 1-0)
Sports UN Man of the match: Marco Reus (GER)
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Boateng, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Schurrle (67 Müller), Reus (80 Götze), Klose (80 Gomez); Manager: Joachim Löw
Greece (4-2-3-1): Sifakis, Maniatis, Tzavellas (46 Fotakis), Papadopoulos, Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, Makos (72 Liberopoulos), Ninis (46 Gekas), Katsouranis, Samaras, Salpingidis; Manager: Fernando Santos
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Goals: Samaras 55, Salpingidis 88 (pen); Lahm 39, Khedira 61, Klose 68, Reus 74
Bookings: Samaras 14, Papastathopoulos 75