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Germany v Greece: money talks but actions will speak loudest on the pitch

Miguel Delaney has landed in Gdansk ahead of tonight’s politically-charged Euro 2012 quarter-final. This could be epic.

Greek fans on the streets of Gdansk today.
Greek fans on the streets of Gdansk today.
Image: Frank Augstein/AP/Press Association Images

FOR ALL THE talk of economics and payback, there are only a few figures that are really relevant to what happens on the pitch in this quarter-final: Germany have far more top-level players and, as such, a more impressive run of form.

Not only have the Germans never lost to Greece but they’re currently on a run of 14 consecutive competitive victories — a national record.

Indeed, the pattern of this match is almost as easy to predict as many of the headlines that will surround it: Germany to impose their game on the Greeks from the off, with the latter looking to do their impression of the 2004 team’s defence.

There a number of factors, however, which may make this apparent mismatch a little more complicated.

Principally, there is the question of whether Greece manager Fernando Santos can potentially complicate things through tactical changes late on, as he did against both Poland and, less successfully, the Czech Republic.

And, given how surprisingly anxious Denmark made the Germans in the closing stages of their last group game — not to mention suffer a few key decisions go against them — this may not be quite as straightforward as assume.

Of course, the key to that, though, is Greece dealing with the German waves earlier in the game. Santos is going to have to shore up, in particularly, the left side of their defence. It was that area that the Czechs pointedly exposed in the first six minutes of their match to effectively kill the game and it’s also there that happens to be the most fruitful area of the German attack, with Mesut Ozil tending to drift in that direction to support Thomas Muller.

The Germans, naturally, have played down the extent to which many expect them to control the game and have made all the usual noises about being patient against a defence that deserves to be respected. The fact is, however, that the German attack deserves even more respect. A few late complications aside, it should see them through in relatively routine manner tonight.

Key battle: Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller against Greece’s suspect left side

Key question: can the Germans do what the Czechs did and get so far ahead that any Greek tactical changes become futile?

Recent scoring form: Germany 2.8 goals a game; Greece 1.1 goal a game

Recent defensive form: Germany 1.8 goals a game; Greece 0.9 goals a game

History lesson: Greece and Germany have met in this competition only once before and, intriguingly, it was in the last eight on the way to a tournament victory for the latter. That does sound a little less intriguing, however, when you remember that it was in 1980 when only eight teams actually qualified and only the group winners went through, straight into a final. On that occasion, Germany knew a point would be enough to get them there and duly got it in a dull 0-0 draw. There was a bit of a scare, however, when Hristos Ardizoglou hit a post for Greece. That, though, conformed to a trend. The two teams have met eight times in total and the Greeks have never won.

Pointers

  • Greece are aiming for only their second ever semi-final in this tournament, having also reached only their second ever quarter-final in this very summer.
  • Germany are currently on a run of 14 consecutive competitive victories — a national record
  • Germany are aiming for their seventh semi-final, second in succession and, of course, extending their record by winning a fourth title overall

Prediction: Germany 3-0 Greece

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