People are trying to give this match a political angle, but there isn’t any on the pitch. Germany, one of the favorites to win the tournament, facing a team that has never beaten them, Greece, who probably shouldn’t be in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals according to most people.
But they are. Not because of any brilliant football or new shining stars. It’s still that defending style that somehow prevails and keeps getting results, keeps overachieving. Giorgos Karagounis portrays that spirit and that kind of overachieving success more than anyone on this team. Karagouins won’t be playing due to suspension, which might be a huge blow for Fernando Santos’ side.
But Greece aren’t the usual underdog everyone roots for. Their ways are described as anti-football. There’s nothing impressive about their style but their fighting spirit, but fighting spirit and heart aren’t enough to beat teams that much better than you. Germany, who are as close to the complete package a national team can be, seem like too high of an obstacle.
But there are lessons to learn from Poland and from Russia. The Greek defense isn’t as strong as in that famous 2004 run. The most important thing is to press them early, hoping to catch that early goal. Greece are at their most frustrating when they poach that surprising goal and defend with 10 men. Germany need grab this match by the throat from the first moment the players step on the field.
Attacking from the wings, especially when Greece resort to parking the bus tactics, which they will at some point during the match. Maybe even from the first moment. Their plan – draw in the Germany attack with as many players as possible and eventually, hit one on the counter attack.
With Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger looking sharp and focused, look back at how Germany worked out the Denmark game, although with a little less of urgency then you’ll probably see tonight from Low’s players. This will be about scoring early for both teams, which will allow either side to dictate the terms of play early on. For the benefit of the game and the fans, it’s better if Germany score first.
Prediction – Germany are probably many’s favorites to win the title on July 1. Greece are pretty much way past the point most expected them to be after the three group stage matches. As tough as they are to beat, Greece just don’t have enough to do more than scratch the surface against one of the best teams in the world.
Game Time – The usual 20:45 local time kick off, with the two teams playing in Gdansk, where Spain played all of their group stage matches.