Quarter-Final
Germany 4-2 Greece

 

 

German captain Phillip Lahm celebrates with his delighted colleagues after scoring the opening goal in an entertaining match

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from PGE Arena, Gdansk 


A dazzling Germany booked their place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals at the expense of Greece by virtue of coming out on top in a pulsating eight-goal thriller.

It took them a while to get into their stride nevertheless Germany took the lead through Phillip Lahm on 39 minutes despite missing a host of first-half chances. They had to survive a short scare as Georgios Samaras levelled ten minutes into the second half from Salpingidis' low cross while further goals from Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus gave them clear daylight before the Greeks were handed a late leaving present when Jerome Boateng handled as Salpingidis converted from the penalty spot. However, Greece exit the competition as the Germans set up a tantalising meeting against either England or Italy, who meet on Sunday, in the last four.

The Germans, the most successful team in the history of the European championships, made four changes from the side which edged past Denmark 2-1 in their final group game with Jerome Boateng returning for the previous matchwinner Lars Bender. While boss Joachim Loew made a calculated gamble by changing three of his attacking four as Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose received their first starts of the tournament with Thomas Mueller, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez left to recharge their batteries with a semi-final clash obviously in mind and on the horizon.

Greece made two alterations to the side which shocked by beating Russia 1-0 in their last match of Group A to seal their place in the last eight six days ago with captain Giorgios Karagounis a huge miss in midfield as he sat out suspended and was replaced by Grigoris Makos while Jose Holebas was also banned for accumulating two yellow cards. Theofanis Gekas lost his place to creative midfielder Sotiris Ninis.

The quarter-final meeting between the two nations also surrounded political matters whereby Greece are increasingly at risk of losing their place in the Eurozone with bail-out talks ongoing to save their growing debt crisis while the German chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticised for her intention to implement tough austerity measures to financially aid the Greeks. She was in attendance in Poland sitting next to UEFA president Michel Platini.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Germany have not fallen behind in a competitive game since the 2010 World Cup third-place play-off against Uruguay in which they recovered from 2-1 down to win 3-2 in South Africa.

 

The early football was played by the Germans- who secured their fourth consecutive semi-final at a major tournament- and had the ball in the net after four minutes when Greece goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis made a complete hash of Sami Khedira's shot with Schurrle tapping home from close range but was flagged for offside with the goal ruled out. With the three attacking changes, German head coach Joachim Loew, constantly gesitculating from the technical area in the first half, looked to inject more craft and trickery as opposed to industry and guile with young enthusiastic midfielders Reus and Schurrle relishing their first taste of tournament knock-out football in the pressure cooker.

The Greeks, who had never beaten Germany in any international fixture, made a ropey start as the Germans came out of the blocks quickly with Bayer Leverkusen's Marco Reus slicing wide on his left foot after a quick, incisive move in which Mesut Ozil was the chief orchestrator as the Real Madrid star put in another man of the match performance. 

A confident start for Germany waiting for someone to write the headlines as they bossed the first half unwaveringly. Greece became stubborn although chances were still being carved out but no end product provided as tricky customer Reus was heavily involved in the build-up with Schurrle shifting it to the right cleverly for Ozil whose shot was too central and easily kept out by Sifakis midway through the first period.

The off-the-field turbulence was translating to the pitch as the Greeks held on by the skin of their teeth against Germany who spurned a number of opportunities. Greece's first shot of any kind came after half an hour with Sotiris Ninis digging out a shot which was sailing wide before Neuer got down to save. At the other end, Ozil tiptoed into the box and teed up Khedira whose effort fizzled through the box bobbled off the turf with goalkeeper Sifakis unable to hold on with Makos sliding to clear the loose ball.

With the one way traffic continuing in motion, the Germans managed to get the first goal shortly before half-time which had been coming since kick-off as unlikely scorer Phillip Lahm, making his 90th cap, ripped the ball past Sifakis from twenty yards after coming inside with the ball swerving into the net. It was his first international goal since scoring in the Euro 2008 quarter-final against Turkey while forcing a change of emphasis from their opponents with damage limitation looking on the cards now for mismatched Greece.

Fernando Santos, who had lost just twice in his previous 24 matches in charge, made two half-time substitutions with Ninis and Tzevallas replaced by Gekas and Fotakis. Greece, who had scored in every match over the past calendar year since a 0-0 draw with Bosnia in June 2011, looked a little more adventurous for a short spell at the beginning of the second half and completely out of the blue levelled things up after 55 minutes as they looked to pay their debts in the best way possible. Dimitris Salpingidis crossed low for Celtic's Georgios Samaras falling down to score only his second goal of 2012 even though it took a large chunk off Neuer on the way in as Loew looked on with ignominy.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Before this one, Greece had won all three of their previous knock-out matches at European Championship finals including the final in 2004 where they beat Portugal.

 

It didn't take long for Germany to retake the lead as just six minutes later Jerome Boateng crossing in from the right hand side for Sami Khedira to run in from midfield to catch a sweet volley which passed over the goalkeeper and into the net after creeping away from a sleeping Maniatis for his second international goal. Theofanis Gekas, who spent a brief time at Portsmouth in 2009, blasted over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after decent build-up play immediately at the opposite end as the low scoring Greeks looked in vein for another equaliser.

A beseiged Greece's misery was compounded as Germany gave themselves some breathing space on 68 minutes when Mesut Ozil's corner kick was headed in by 34-year old Klose for his seventeenth tournament goal after he rose infront of Papadopoulos with keeper Sifakis in no mans land when coming to try to catch the ball. Germany looked dangerous every time they went forward and it was only a matter of time before they added a fourth when Borussia Monchengladbach's key ringleader Marco Reus belted in with the help of the crossbar after Ozil's sliding pass round the side of Papastathopoulos found Klose who latched onto it but saw Sifakis stood in his way coming back off the goalkeeper to the midfielder who couldn't miss as Frau Merkel even showed a smile.  

Every touch was greeted by a loud cheer from supporters as the Germans worked the ball around the pitch with constimate ease as Greece's bubble had well and truly burst. They were given the chance to net a consolation goal in the final two minutes when Slovenian referee Damir Skomina harshly adjudged former Manchester City defender Jerome Boateng for handball even though the full-back had his back to the ball. Greece had missed their last three penalties, including against Poland in their opening game of the tournament, however Salpingidis showed composure to send Neuer the wrong way and stroke the ball into the bottom corner.

After watching Czech Republic beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the first quarter-final, the Greece couldn't show them how to be successful as underdogs as the Germans will take on either England or Italy in the semi-finals at the National Stadium in Warsaw next Thursday.

 

 


EURO 2012 ANALYSIS:  Germany 4-2 Greece
Adam Higgins-  Chief Football Editor reporting in Gdansk


"Nobody fancied Greece before the game with many looking at it from the David vs Goliath perspective. It was a good game to watch and I felt that the changes that Joachim Loew had made were brave put reaped dividends in the end. Reus was as good as any other player and had a great first half scoring a goal as well. It could have all been over at half-time had the Germans found an end product. The signs at the start of the second half were that Gekas was going to make a difference to Greece which he wasn't involved in the equaliser which was totally unexpected. The Germans ran out easy winners in the end with the gulf of class between the two nations in terms of football there for all to see in the second half and had they put some of the first half chances away it could have been a total embarrassment. They are a real force to be reckoned with and they are the team to beat at the tournament."

 

  

 

 

Friday 22nd June                UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                Quarter-Final                  PGE Arena, Gdansk


Germany 4-2 Greece                                                KO 7:45pm                     Live on ITV1/HD                 (HT 1-0)

Lahm 39         Samaras 55
Khedira 61     Salpingidis 89 (pen)
Klose 68
Reus 74

 

 

 

Germany:

(4-2-3-1)


1 Manuel Neuer-  7/10  Not a lot to do in the game, never really tested and did his best for the equalising goal for the Greeks. Looks a very good goalkeeper who is capable of helping the Germans later on in the tournament.

20 Jerome Boateng-  7/10  Slotted back into side after suspension with no trouble at all, mainly camped in Greece half for a lot of match, linked up well with Schurrle down the right side. 5 Mats Hummels-  7.5/10  Good distribution to the midfielders when in possession at the back, calm and showing that the early tournament nerves he had have well and truly vanished. A quality performance from a top young defender.

14 Holger Badstuber-  7/10  Continued his full development with another assured display in general albeit with little to do- intervened when he could and acted the senior role of two centre-backs well. Was dangerous in the opposing box as well.

16 Phillip Lahm (C)-  8/10  Took on oppposite full-back well and always looked to get forward. Scored a fabulous goal in first half. Was never really forced into much defending- found acres of space on numerous occasions. So reliable- a true skipper.

7 Bastian Schweinsteiger-  6.5/10  Strangely giving the ball away more frequent than usual- normally calm in possession but rushed a little when being harried therefore not being able to get into his usual stride. Just a bad day- still a world class player nonetheless.

6 Sami Khedira-  7.5/10  Another efficient display from the Real Madrid man who held his position well, rarely made a mistake, kept hold of the ball and almost had a goal to his name.

9 Andre Schurrle-  6.5/10  Looked a little rusty in early exchanges which was understandable however slowly but surely his involvement grew and he posed a great on the right wing giving Mueller a good challenge for his starting spot.

8 Mesut Ozil-  9/10  Another outstanding performance worthy of man of the match again- dictates the play, makes everything happen and click together. Sprays passes around for fun, only criticism you can have of his dominant displays is the number of goals he scored. Wasted one or two clear openings in game.

21 Marco Reus-  8.5/10  Came back into side and had an inflence on the game throughout, some great touches, always on the move and a classy player with a huge future in the national side. Gave that something different which Germans haven't had so far.

11 Miroslav Klose-  7.5/10  34-year old looked to make an impression and did with his efforts never faulted- scored another tournament goal to add to his collection with his effort.

 

Substitutes bench:-
12 Wiese (GK), 22 Zieler (GK), 3 Schmelzer, 4 Howedes, 17 Mertesacker, 2 Gundogan, 13 Mueller, 15 Bender, 18 Kroos, 19 Gotze, 10 Podolski, 23 Gomez.

 

Subs used:

Mueller (for Schurrle-  67 mins)-  3.5/10  Couldn't make an impression on the game given that the attacking was more down the left hand side throughout the game for Germany.

Gomez (for Klose-  79 mins)-  3/10  He is a potent goalscorer but he was barely mentioned in the small time that he was on the pitch- no scoring chances and little impact.

Gotze (for Reus-  79 mins)-  2.5/10  Short cameo whereby he didn't impose himself on the final minutes, getting on the ball only once or twice but still didn't look out of place.

 

Booked:       None

 

Sent-off:         None

 

 

 

Greece:

(4-2-3-1)


13 Michalis Sifakis-  6/10  Goalkeeper had a nightmarish start to game spilling a lot of efforts although conditions of pitch weren't the best. Always looked unnerved by the occasion- beaten by swerving Lahm shot.

15 Vassilis Torosidis-  6.5/10  Switched to left-back later in game after a decent start keeping the ball along the ground and getting in a couple of strong tackles on Schurrle. Once he changed positions, he didn't looked comfortable whatsoever. 5 Kyriakos Papadopoulos-  6/10  The young defender was poor- he wasn't able to read the game or step in to the more matured role that he has taken so far. His clearances were improvised and not controlled while he also got frustrated in second half.

19 Sokratis Papastathopoulos-  6.5/10  Got himself in the book again, gave away some fouls out of sheer frustration in the second half and couldn't handle Klose's presence at times.

3 Giorgos Tzavellas-  5/10  Withdrawn at the interval after a poor performance in the first instance with the left-back iscolated all the time while he was kicking aimless balls upfield which were bread and butter for the German centre-backs.

6 Grigoris Makos-  6.5/10  Had the task of coping with the movement and wizardry of Ozil pulling the strings while had to successfully deputise for the honourable captain Karagounis. Although he didn't last the whole game, he got back to help out in the penalty box and was relatively calm under pressure.

2 Yiannis Maniatis-  6/10  Tried to keep the midfield holding together and went on one decent run in the first half towards German territory- again offered himself in space sometimes but didn't get the ball. Khedira overran him a lot of the time.

18 Sotiris Ninis-  5.5/10  Taken off at half-time after a performance which he cannot be happy with- asked to defend more which he obviously wasn't capable- occasion too much for the young midfielder. Had Greece's only shot of the opening 45 minutes though.

21 Costas Katsouranis (C)-  6/10  The most forward thinking of the Greek midfield although he wasn't allowed to stamp his authority on the game as he was crowded out while never receiving the ball from his colleagues.

7 Georgios Samaras-  6.5/10  Persistent fouling all over pitch early on- making his presence felt in wrong ways by needlessly giving away soft free-kicks. Booked after just quarter of an hour- scored the leveller which got Greece believing again.

14 Dimitris Salpingidis-  7/10  Provided the cross for the goal by Samaras while netted himself from the penalty spot and looked rejuventated after the arrival of Gekas- was always going to be hard for him but has impressed in the tournament overall.

 

Substitutes bench:-
1 Chalkias (GK), 12 Tzorvas (GK), 4 Malezas, 16 Fotakis, 22 Fortounis, 23 Ioannis, 9 Liberopoulos, 11 Mitroglou, 17 Gekas.

 

Subs used:

Gekas (for Ninis-  Half-time)-  5/10  Added a little something extra going forward as a genuine outlet which they were evidently missing in the first half- a couple of shots over but looked bright.

Fotakis (for Tzavellas-  Half-time)-  4.5/10  Came on to add a little more defensive ease in the hope of putting up a better fight against the German wide players which he couldn't do- Reus went past him with his ease while with Lahm's help, it left him with a two on one situation.

Liberopoulos (for Makos-  71 mins)-  3.5/10  Had a small number of touches on the ball and looked distinctly nervy being caught on the ball a couple of times. Didn't do a great job up against Khedira- mainly introduced to replace tiring legs of Makos.

 

Booked:      Samaras (14), Papastathopoulos (75)

 

Sent-off:        None

 

 

My Man of the Match:    Mesut Ozil (Germany)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Giorgos Tzevallas (Greece)- Rating 5/10

 

 

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)- 8.5/10
Attendance: 43,000

 

 

Match Facts:


Possession: Germany- 68%                   Greece- 32%

Shots at goal: Germany- 26                     Greece- 8

Shots on target: Germany- 15                       Greece- 4

Shots off target: Germany- 11                      Greece- 4

Corners: Germany- 10                      Greece- 1

Fouls: Germany- 7                     Greece- 10

Offsides: Germany- 4                       Greece- 2

Assists: Germany- 2 (Boateng, Ozil)                     Greece- 1 (Salpingidis)

 

 

 

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS & Reaction:


Germany head coach Joachim Loew:  "First of all, I would like to say it was a fantastic performance from our team. For the fourth time in a row, we have qualified for the semi-final of a major tournament. Nobody thought we could have done that back in 2004. We have won 15 games in a row. We are the youngest team at this tournament and have great prospects for the future. I am proud of my players. We absolutely deserved to win tonight. Greece scored two goals out of one chance. We were good from the start but perhaps the only thing I can say is that we didn't take advantage of our chances early on. I was irritated at that stage and my emotions are expressed at times like that. After three wins here, I wasn't dissatisfied with my team in the slightest, but I had been planning on making the changes to the lineup for a while. I thought we had to be unpredictable against Greece, because I felt they would be ready for us. It is good to be cheeky like that from time to time. I thought the plan worked out quite well. Looking ahead, I think the four teams in the semi-finals will be serious contenders for the title. We know from now on games of this magnitude are decided by small details, and we can't allow a single mistake." 


Greece head coach Fernando Santos:  "Firstly, I would like to congratulate Germany, who played really well and got their win. I would also like to congratulate my team for all of the efforts they put in throughout this tournament. In tonight's game, we didn't find much space, and they had the majority of possession. We should have looked to hold on to the ball more, but we practically couldn't breathe at times. Despite our efforts in defence, we conceded a first goal that made things more difficult for us. During the break, we told the players to try to correct some defensive mistakes while taking more initiative in attack. I told them that if we scored, the game would change. We went out with determination and scored, but we then conceded again quickly and that clipped our wings. My players deserve credit though because they fought until the very last minute. We were missing the suspended Giorgos Karagounis, who is a very important player for us as he can keep the ball which gives his team-mates a breather. Had we had that we would not have conceded four goals. We weren't expecting so many changes to Germany's lineup. Their coach wanted to change to freshen things up, and for me it was the right move on his part. We will try to correct a few things now and hope to be better at the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers." 

 

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