Euro 2012: Why Greece Match Could Be an Omen of Trouble for Germany
On Friday night, Germany defeated Greece 4-2 in the second quarterfinal of Euro 2012.
The scoreline does not quite tell the story of how one-sided the action was in this match, as Germany commanded play seemingly from first whistle to last.
While this dominance is a great testament to the Germans' talent, though, the match could be seen as a cause for concern for their fans.
Why? I'm glad you asked.
Again, Germany thoroughly dominated the match against Greece, possessing the ball at a 66 percent rate and having the ball in the Greek final third for mass amounts of the match.
Through this relentless attack, they did net the ball on four different occasions. However, this number causes the German finishing touch to flatter to deceive.
Throughout the match, Germany peppered the Greek net with 24 shots, 14 of which were on target. Yet, of the eight saves by keeper Sifakis, only a few of them were even above average. The main culprit of this poor finishing was André Schürrle, who missed chances and wasted opportunities.
Even outside of those 24 shots, there were numerous occasions where the Germans seemed too intent on walking the ball into the net. Despite his goal, Miroslav Klose was guilty of this over-elaborate play a few times, passing up good shots for errant passes.
Now, of course, the German attack was filled with three new faces who were filling in for the resting starters, including the two players mentioned above.
Still, the problems faced today will not inspire good feelings about the possibility of these players coming off the bench in the semis or final. This is especially true since the teams in those matches, undoubtedly, will be stronger.
For the most part, the German defense did not have much to do today, yet still gave up two goals.
To be fair, the second of the goals was conceded when Germany had a three-goal lead in the dying minutes of the match. Hence, this one will be disregarded.
However, the first goal came in the 55th minute and tied the match up at a goal a piece. It was a goal on the counter-attack, as a few nice balls saw the Greeks able to cut the defense apart and put the ball in the back of the net.
Perhaps the Germans had been lured into a false sense of security by the lack of Greek attack throughout the match, but Germany have shown a bit of vulnerability in the back throughout the tournament so far.
Additionally, Mats Hummels showed a problematic lack of pace, especially on one play where Gekas flew by him near the end of the match.
Against more attacking sides, this may become an issue.
In a calculated gamble that seems to have paid off, German coach Jogi Löw sat his three attackers (Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller) for the quarterfinal.
Clearly, this was an attempt to keep the three fresh for the team's semifinal and final encounters.
However, the last European championships give a strong indication that the plan may backfire.
In Euro 2008, all four groups had a nation that won their first two matches and clinched a quarterfinal berth before their third. In each case, that team rested a portion of their players in their final group match in order to rest for the quarterfinals.
Of those four sides, three (Portugal, Netherlands and Croatia) suffered shock defeats in the quarters to sides that had earned qualification on the final day. The fourth, Spain, had their toughest match of the tournament in the quarters as Italy held them to 0-0 before the Spaniards went through on penalties.
In theory, resting players at any point possible seems to be a great strategy, and Germany's usage of it at this stage in the competition does seem to give them a leg up on their semifinal opponent.
If the lessons of 2008 mean anything, though, it may be a decision the Germans live to regret.
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