More than 30 games into Euro 2012 and we reach the knock-out stages, when the true narrative of the tournament is always written. Over the next 10 days hopes and dreams will be shattered, or attained, as the tournament reaches it’s dénouement. What a tournament it has been to date, with some of the most attacking football seen at any international competition in recent memory.
The quarter-finals take place over four nights, starting with Portugal’s win over the Czech Republic on Thursday, and concluding with England’s defeat to Italy in Kiev on Sunday.
In between – Friday’s match, as Germany meets Greece in Gdansk. Can Mario Gomez, Mesut Ozil and the rest lead Germany into the semi-final, or will Greece’s fighting spirit produce another shock?
Join United Rant for live chat, comment and analysis on the match from around 7pm, with updates and news through the afternoon.
Ed - Friday 21:40
A fine performance from Germany when it mattered. At 1-0 Germany was far too casual. At 1-1 Germany turned on the afterburners and were out of sight before Greece could do anything about it. There’s just so much variety from this German side. Goals from all parts of the pitch, with Ozil in total control of the proceedings. What a player the little Madrid man is.
But if there’s a hope… at times Germany were very casual.
B+ from the Germans, but if anything there’s even more to come from this side. Could they beat Spain in the final, if that’s how it turns out? Why not… Germany impressing everybody at this tournament.
Joachim Low will have some interesting decisions to make for the semi. Do Muller, Podolski and Gomez come back into it. Reus had a fantastic game, but Klose and especially Schurrle didn’t impress as much.
Germany have plenty of time before a semi too.. two more days than England or Italy will have to rest.
Ed - Friday 21:34
Penalty to Greece
Very, very harsh on Boateng… Salpangidis to take…
…. and he scores. It’s only a consolation for Greece. A cheer for the fans but no different.
Ed - Friday 21:33
Class when required
Perhaps the biggest lesson from tonight’s game is just how easily Germany turned on the class when it was needed. Coasting at 1-0, in danger at 1-1, Germany simply powered past Greece when it was needed. In the end 4-1 flattered the Greeks…. and with three minutes left it might not finish that way.
Ed - Friday 21:30
Deutschland uber Alles
It’s ringing around the PGE stadium in Gdansk. Really a terribly arrogant anthem. Mind you England’s God Save the Queen is easily the most pompous in the tournament!
But on the pitch Deutschland really is uber Alles… even, perhaps, on this evidence, Spain. Could make for a fantastic final if the results go as predicted.
Ed - Friday 21:27
Ozil the creator with a lovely run into the box. Keeper spills and Gomez can’t force home the rebound. Ozil really deserves a goal though. The architect of an awesomely powerful German performance.
More than 10 years ago the German FA decided to reorganise youth football. This is the result.
Ed - Friday 21:25
Park the bus. Get thumped. Don’t park the bus. Get thumped. This German side really is very good and should, by some miracle, England reach the semi finals there’s a ‘rock and a hard place’ choice facing the England manager.
Or, given the Greek theme of the evening… a choice between Scylla and Charybdis.
Ed - Friday 21:23
Just how awesome is the German team?
Probably very. There’s an England squad wondering how to park the bus against Italy knowing that they’ll need to double the defence against Germany in a potential semi final. The difference in quality is huge, isn’t it?
Ed - Friday 21:20
4-1… and Reus gets a deserved goal
All over now and the only question is just how badly Greece is going to get stuffed. Absolutely smashed in on the volley from Reus who has had a great game tonight. The BMG man is moving to Borussia Dortmund this summer for £22m. Money well spent ….
Ed - Friday 21:17
What an embarrassing attempt at punching the cross. Hugely culpable for Klose’s goal – probably the game sealing goal.
There’s some candidates for the worst keeper in the tournament. Sifakis is one of them. Shay Given. Przemyslaw Tyton of Poland. Andriy Pyatov of Ukraine.
Ed - Friday 21:13
Schurrle off, Muller on
Reus may come across to the left hand side. In truth Schurrle hasn’t had the best game, while Reus has been excellent…
… and seconds later Klose scores to make it 3-1 and surely the game is now safe. Or is that Schurrle the game is safe!
Ed - Friday 21:12
First Gekas has an opportunity to shoot unchallenged from 20 yards – he fires well over. And then Papadopoulos heads over from a corner when he could have done better. They’re still ceding almost all the possession to Germany, but Greece isn’t out of this just yet…
Ed - Friday 21:07
Absolutely smashed in by Khedira to make it 2-1. Greece’s parity only last a couple of minutes. Khedira ran from deep and caught the shop so cleanly to smash home into the roof of the net. Angela Merkel goes mad in the stands and order is restored….
Ed - Friday 21:04
Football, bloody hell
The Greeks go mad in the stadium. You can only guess at the scenes in Athens right now. Fernando Santos is calm as on the Greek bench. Never had a concern, right. Extraordinary stuff from Greece. They just won’t be beaten even with 19% of the possession!
Ed - Friday 21:01
Unbelievable scenes in Gdansk as Giorgious Samaras scores the equaliser. Great touch from Gekas, lovely ball from Salapangidis and a fine finish from Samaras. What a break from Greece.
Ed - Friday 20:57
Mrs Bastian Schweinsteiger
There’s not a lot happening in the game so get your retinas around these… what the heck.
Ed - Friday 20:52
Gekis on for Fotakis
A genuine striker on for Greece, so at least they have somebody up there in the second half…. can they get the ball to him is the real question.
Ed - Friday 20:47
Lahm skewers Greece
Boom, tish! But can Greece do anything to change the pattern on the game? As it stands it’s really a question of how many Germany score and when Joachim Low fancies resting some key players. Greece have to break out of the 9-1-0 system or defeat is certain. But if the Greeks become more attacking a larger defeat is on the cards. Difficult equation to square.
Ed - Friday 20:44
This is a dynamic shot of Greece’s tactics in action… no really. They really didn’t move that much!
Ed - Friday 20:34
Germany so far had 81% possession to the Greeks 19%. 14 shots on goal, to 2. 7 of those have been on target. 328 successful passes to 49 successful passes. 126 of Germany’s have been in the final third. Germany has made 14 crosses to 0 for the Greeks.
Ed - Friday 20:29
You’ve been Merk(el)ed
Germany Prime Minister Angel Merkel is at the game tonight. She’s a bit happy. Her Greek counter part has a (genuine) sick note…
Ed - Friday 20:25
Echoes of World Cup 2006 as captain Phillip Lahm smashes home from 20 yards to make it 1-0. What a fine finish from the right-footed left-back.
Nobody on the Greek side got anywhere close to the left-back and Fernando Santos will be furious with his flat-back 10.
Ed - Friday 20:23
Drifting absolutely everywhere. The Ghost is central to absolutely everything Germany do. Sets the tone, direction and pace of Germany’s game. What a bargain he was for Madrid at £12 million. Cheap at five times the price. Ozil hasn’t scored in this tournament so far but he’s every bit as influential as Iniesta and Pirlo.
Ed - Friday 20:18
Greeks on the break
Greece are going find it difficult to break playing this system. It may be a 4-2-3-1 / 4-6-0. but there’s so many players deep right now that Ninis is miles away from his team-mates. Somebody has to hold the ball while colleagues join in the attacks….
… and as we say, Ninis cuts in from the right to shoot at goal.
Fine line this. Commit numbers forward and offer Germany space. Hold men back, and fail to get out of your own half…
Ed - Friday 20:11
This time Ozil works it into the box, Schurrle shoots and Klose misses as the far post. Germany create a chance per attack at the moment. When, rather than if? Maybe but if you keep missing chances then you’re likely to regret it… Germnay. You. Have. Been. Warned!
Ed - Friday 20:09
Ozil misses a glorious chance
Superb movement from Reus, Klose and Ozil. The Real Madrid man tries to pass it into the net when surely he should have put the laces through it. A huge chance missed… how much will Germany regret it?
Ed - Friday 20:06
Remembered fondly at Old Trafford as the hapless Manchester City striker, Samaras has reinvented himself as a left-winger in this tournament. And the team’s hatchet man…
Ed - Friday 20:04
It’s catching with Greece quite obviously not playing with an out-and-out striker. Ninis is nominally the most forward player, but he’s drifting into the channels when Greece (very occasionally) have the ball. Think more of ‘false 9′ than a true striker. In fact if Ninis keeps going wide perhaps we can talk of a ‘false 7′…. !
Ed - Friday 20:02
Khedira flung himself in the box… really nothing in it although there were some arms up from Torosidis. Not a penalty, and the referee didn’t give it but the Greeks are angry with the somewhat theatrical fall.
Ed - Friday 19:58
Lovely play from the Germans
Low’s team really is good to watch. One-touch, two-touch, fast, slow… there’s so much variety to the team’s play and tactics it’s hard to see Greece simply holding ground as the team did against Russia in the group stages. And then if required Germany can always use the pace of Reus on the counter, or go more direct late in the game with Gomez who is on the bench.
Ed - Friday 19:56
In play betting
On one leading exchange the outright odds are currently 10/1 on the Greeks and 3/10 on for the Germans. In a two horse race! *gets credit card out for a cheeky punt*
Ed - Friday 19:53
Germany well on top already
It’s all being played in the Greek half already – looks like it’ll be a very long night for the underdogs. The Germans are moving the ball quickly, and in Reus they have lots of pace down the right hand side. Three changes in attack perhaps but its hard to argue Germany are much weaker as a result.
Ed - Friday 19:51
Goal! …. no!
Schurrle is denied a goal when the offside flag goes up. There’s almost nothing in it… millimetres perhaps. But whatever the rights and wrongs there’s no doubt the Greeks deserve some luck after a couple of horrendous decisions for them in the tournament to date. Karagounis yellow for diving that never was, and Papastathopoulos show a red card in the opening game.
Ed - Friday 19:49
First chance (sort of)
Goes to Germany as Reus, and Ozil almost create an opening for Klose. The Polish-born striker would surely have scored had he not slipped on the turf 12 yards out. Changes may have been made but there’s no shortage of talent in the Germany squad – Klose, Schurrle, and Reus are out to prove that.
Ed - Friday 19:46
Away we go…
We’re under way at the PGE Arena in Gdansk, with Germany very hot favourites to take this one. Football is a simple game, they say, in which 22 men kick a ball around… and then the Germans win. Well, we’ll see tonight. It’s going to take a huge performance from Greece to change that old adage.
Ed - Friday 19:42
The Original Greece Versus Germany
Ed - Friday 19:41
Are the Greeks up for this?
You’d better believe it! Although Rant suspects the Greek team may be on the attack rather less than this chap…
Ed - Friday 19:05
How can the Greeks get anything out of this tie?
Should Greece beat Germany tonight it’ll surely be one of the biggest tournament upsets ever – and that includes Greece’s win in the 2004 tournament. How can the highly unfancied side do it? @sleepy_nik explains here.
Germany remain 2/1 favourites to lift the trophy, and have a wealth of attacking talent only matched by the Spaniards (Goetze is yet to take to the pitch). Yet Greece are here on merit, and needing to find no extra motivation on Friday night, coupled with an eloquently prepared coach at the helm in Fernando Santos (and not too distant memories of the raid on Lisbon), there is always a chance to cause an upset.
Only two defeats in 21 games, a tactical whiz (particularly after the break) and with the added bonus of applying greater risk than [Otto] Rehhagel, [Fernando] Santos has already achieved what he desired from the outset: quarter final qualification. He will recognise that his team starts as the big underdog, especially without his key centre half (Avraam Papadopoulos) and central midfielder and captain, Karagounis – but his self-confidence and belief in his team’s capability remains unbroken. If his players can follow his strict tactical instruction (shape and through marking), they have a chance.
- Santos must continue to use his instinct
- Wide forwards must stay disciplined
- The fullbacks must perform
- Tzavellas’ left foot must be as crucial as Ozil’s (!)
Ed - Friday 18:58
As expected (see earlier) Reus, Schurrle and Klose come into the German side, while Boateng returns from suspension in a now very familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Greek youngsters Ninis comes into the Greek strikeforce for the far more experienced Gekas.
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Reus, Ozil, Schurrle; Klose
Greece (4-2-3-1): Sifakis; Torrosidis, Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas; Makos, Katsouranis;Salpingidis, Maniatis, Samaras; Ninis
Ed - Friday 18:45
The Dressing Rooms
Exciting stuff, eh?!
Ed - Friday 18:39
Prime Minister News
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has canceled his trip to the quarter-finals as he undergoes surgery for retinal detachment and cannot travel to Gdansk. The cynics among you might suggest that Samaras simply doesn’t want another meeting with ‘benefactor’ Angela Merkel. Rant couldn’t possibly comment.
Ed - Friday 18:35
Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis and left-back Jose Holebas each miss the game through suspension after picking up two tournament bookings. Karagounis was booked, quite inexplicably, against Russia for simulation even though replays showed a clear foul on the 35-year-old Panathinaikos midfielder. Grigoris Makos or Giorgos Fotakis are likely to replace the Greek captain.
Jerome Boateng, the Germany right-back, is available after missing the win against Denmark through suspension. German newspaper Bild reports that Miroslav Klose comes in Mario Gomez, André Schürrle for Lukas Podolski, and Marco Reus for Thomas Mueller.
Ed - Friday 16:48
The Debt Derby those of a crueler persuasion might call it with Greece and current financial underwriters, Germany, meeting in the Euro 2012 quarter-final. Yet Germany may well be in charitable mood on the pitch too if pre-match rumours are to be believed, with coach Joachim Löw resting three key players for the match in Gdansk. Striker Mario Gomez, and midfielders Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller will all sit out the match according to newspaper Bild. Given that Germany has an in-built two day rest advantage over semi-final opponents England or Italy the changes are something of a gamble.
Yet, few expect anything other than a comfortable German win on Friday night, with even Greek powers of recovery to be severely tested by one of two clear tournament favourites. Greece came through Group A in remarkable fashion, beating highly-fancied Russia in the final group fixture. But without captain Giorgos Karagounis, suspended because of a highly dubious yellow card picked up for diving in the Russia game, Greece is already on the back-foot.
Indeed, Germany’s ‘reserves’, if they are to be called that, aren’t bad either: Miroslav Klose, who has 63 goals in 119 appearances for Die Mannschaft, Marco Reus and André Schürrle.