Germany are planning to bide their time and eventually wear down defensive-minded Greece when they meet in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals tonight.
The Germans advanced through Group B with three wins from three games but are bracing for a tougher defence than what they faced against Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. Greece conceded only five goals in 10 qualifiers, though they also let in three goals in three Group A games, advancing as runners-up behind the Czech Republic.
“We got a small taste of what we can expect when we faced the Danes,” said German midfielder Sami Khedira, who is expected to take the midfield-anchor role against Greece again.
“Greece are a very compact team, tactically very strong, well organised and aggressive in their approach. They are also fast on the breaks and they had three or four chances in the tournament and scored three goals. They take their opportunities and that is a quality of a very good side.
“Patience will be necessaryduring the game from our side. We have to move because if we remain static, it will be very difficult against the Greeks. We have to wear them out, tire them out and keep moving the ball accurately.”
Germany have yet to find the form that took them to third place in the World Cup two years ago but they have shown they have matured into a team who may lack spark but can be equally effective when it comes to winning games.
“We are calmer now, cleverer and we keep our composure for longer,” said Khedira when asked to compare this team with that of two years ago. “We are more concentrated over 90 minutes.”
Boateng back for the
The Germans, who will have defender Jerome Boateng back after missing the last game through suspension, will meet either England or Italy in the last-four should they advance against the seemingly weaker Greeks.
Both teams have played down the political connotations of the game and Greece will be looking to cause an upset only on the pitch, even without suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis.
Greece coach Fernando Santos has yet to reveal who will replace the inspirational midfielder but it is likely to be Grigoris Makos, a more defensive player, who will try to break up German attacks early.
“There is an atmosphere of self-sacrifice in this team,” said midfielder Kostas Katsouranis. “All 11 players will give it all we have got. We have been successful as a team where each one player plays for the team and that is what we will do again.”
‘Let’s win it for the nation’
Spearheading Greece’s offence will be 27-year-old Giorgos Samaras of Celtic, who has so far failed to score in the tournament. However, the talismanic striker insisted that his side should win for its nation.
“We have to play for 11 million people who are hoping for us to do something worthwhile, so that they can get out in the streets to celebrate,” said Samaras.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2012.
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