Germany vs. Greece Euro 2012: Thoughts on a Fantastic Quarterfinal
In the group stages, Germany provided us with three very different performances. In the quarterfinal, Germany showed us another dimension to their play, a dimension we already knew of but had yet to see.
Joachim Loew once again made brave decisions. He is really setting up his team on the basis of the system they will come up against rather than just fielding his best players.
Thomas Mueller is adept at keeping possession and helping out at the back. However, he and the strong Lukas Podolski are not great at finding gaps in a strong, organized defence. Everyone knows about Mario Gomez’s scoring abilities. Everyone also knows that Gomez is simply nothing more than a classic ‘penalty box’ striker even though that is slowly starting to change.
Hence, Loew decided to play Andre Schuerrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose in place of Podolski, Mueller and Gomez respectively. Again his decisions paid off. He has a 23-man squad and he is utilizing it. Even Mario Goetze came on in the final minutes.
The match was a fun one to watch. The football of the attackers was so easy on the eye.
As expected, Greece defended in the opening 40 minutes, and looked to hit Germany on the counter. Then, Philipp Lahm came up with a captain’s goal. Lahm has scored five goals for Germany, three of which have come in major tournaments. Also, he has scored in three of the last four major tournaments.
The goal from Lahm was extraordinary. It was a brilliant goal. Almost all of Lahm’s goals are brilliant and vital ones. The strike had everyone gasping.
In the second half, Germany seemed to be happy to protect the lead but Greece punished them on the counter. Germany has looked vulnerable on the counter, and Lahm and Mats Hummels were caught out. Georgios Samaras put the ball past Manuel Neuer who almost saved it.
The goal spurred Germany to life. They moved forward with blistering pace. Andre Schurrle immediately created a chance at the other end. Eventually, a cross meant for Klose found its way to Sami Khedira who capped off a brilliant performance with a brilliant goal. Klose himself got a third goal with a header shortly afterwards to cap off a good night. By the way, that is number 64 for him in a Germany shirt.
Finally, as the keeper parried Klose’s effort for a fourth goal for Germany, Reus blasted the ball into the net. Germany conceded a second, but whether the penalty was legitimate is doubtful. It seemed that the decision was correct the first time, but on the replay it looked like Boateng’s back was to the ball and the ball hit his hand.
There were two worrying elements about what was otherwise a good performance. The team proved vulnerable to counterattacks, and Bastian Schweinsteiger misplaced a number of his passes in the first half but was bailed out by the backline. Despite that, Schweinsteiger completed more passes than the entire Greek side. Otherwise, the back four had another good night, especially Hummels, and Mesut Oezil finally played a brilliant match.
There was plenty to love about the performance. The fun-loving Germany had returned. The football was brilliant, and not just ‘efficient’ as their group stage performances had been labeled. Reus had a game to remember despite the scuffed efforts in the first half, while Schuerrle, despite losing the ball at times, simply took on the defence himself and threatened almost every time he had possession.
Of course, the Germans had an incredible amount of ball possession. 76 percent is just brilliant. They had only 48 percent against the Dutch earlier in the tournament. Now, the Germans await the winner of the Italy-England clash.
Expect Loew to pick his players according to the opposition. The absence of Mueller and Podolski perhaps made the backline look just a little open. However, the attack flourished.
Loew has gotten the balance right in every game. Today's match showed the diversity that exists in the German squad with four different players scoring. Also, seven different players have struck so far for the Germans in Euro 2012.
Today’s match had six goals—what more could the neutral want? Germany will now look ahead to yet another semifinal showing by their team in a major tournament. In 2008, the semifinals saw Germany and Turkey come together with Philipp Lahm grabbing a late win.
So, what did you think of Germany’s performance? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.
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