A comprehensive victory for Germany in this second Euro 2012 Quarter Final. A dominant performance, bossing Greece all over the park!
The Germans made three changes to their squad, completely refreshing their attacking trio. Andre Schurrle replaced Podolski on the left, Marco Reus replaced Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose came in for Mario Gomez. The rest of the squad remained unchanged.
Right from the off, the Germans looked a much better attacking unit. Cohesive, energetic and extremely fluid. Ozil, Reus and Klose constantly switched positions, Schweinsteiger and Khedira linked up with the attack throughout the game, which gave the Greek players a lot of problems. Even though Greece were defending with solid two banks of 4 and had men behind the ball, the fluidity of the German players meant that Germany were able to draw Greek players out of position and as a result, open up pockets of space for others to exploit – most notably Ozil and Reus.
Germany had a couple of excellent chances within the first 30 minutes. Their movement was quite simply, outstanding, and they were constantly able to open up the Greek defense because of their it.
Apart from an incorrectly-given offside goal by Schurrle in the 4th minute, Reus and Klose had quite a lot of chances to put the game to bed, but missed from close range.
Most of the German attacks started from the left (with Philipp Lahm combining well with Schurrle and Ozil) before switching them to the right toward Reus, who always seemed to find himself in acres of space. The young Borrusia Dortmund player did really well, creating chances, combining with other players and getting on the end of some good balls into the box as well. His movement on and off the ball was simply superb.
Greece continued to play very deep, almost on the edge of their box, putting 9 men behind the ball and inviting pressure. As a result and perhaps understandably, the Germans played an extremely high-line; for long lengths of time, the deepest player for Germany, usually either Mats Hummels or Holger Badstuber, would find himself to be inside the Greek half.
Germany pretty much kept throwing wave after wave of attacks on the Greek goal, bringing men forward and piling up the pressure. What was odd was that unlike their previous 3 (group) games, and unlike Germany’s modus operandi, there was no patient build-up to each attack. Instead German attacks were direct with their attacks. They kept losing the ball deep inside Greece’s half because of this approach, but were still able to get possession back before Greece could do anything meaningful with it.
The Germans had to wait till the 39th minute for the opener – a goal which could very well be a strong contender for Goal of the Tournament – a Phillip Lahm screamer (Ibra’s volley still Goal of the Tournament for me). To call it a wonderful strike would be a serious understatement. It was a thing of beauty, struck from around 30-odd yards out and the keeper had absolutely no chance, even though he did get a hand to it.
Lahm had all the time in the world to chest the ball down and line his shot up. And that is where I had a problem with Greece – they gave the Germans too much time and space on the ball and remained oblivious to the concept of closing players down. Often times, the likes of Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Reus would have a lot of time and acres of space at their disposal, with no one even attempting to close them down.
We went into half-time at 1-0, and Germany should’ve had at least a couple of goals more had they been more clinical in front of goal. There was a feeling that the Germans would regret their missed chances, and this is precisely what happened when Georgios Samaras scored for the Greeks, following a fast break.
The Germans – and this was pretty much a feature of their game today – did not put too many players in defense, even when out of possession, and their fullbacks (most notably Lahm) and midfielders stayed high up the pitch when they were without the ball. This meant that they would always be vulnerable to a quick counter-attack, and the Greeks did come close on a couple of occasions in doing just this in the first half. In the 55th minute however, Greek striker Dimitris Salpingidis was released down the right flank and made an excellent quick run down field. He then put in a teasing cross from the right and it was a simple tap-in for Samaras. A great counter-attack, and Germany only had 3 players at the back; a 3 v 2.
Two aspects of the goal to touch upon:
(1) Samaras was easily Greece’s best player throughout the game – offensively as well as defensively (as seen during set-pieces). He lost his marker easily and tapped the ball in to score the simplest of goals.
(2) Jerome Boateng: poor showing. Lost his man too easily and was caught ball-watching for Greece’s first goal. Gave away possession throughout the game, poor with his crosses (apart from the Khedira assist but that was pure luck), and was generally rubbish throughout. Even conceded a penalty late on (unlucky, more on that in a bit), which means he was responsible for both goals his team conceded. But he really should’ve done better with Samaras for Greece’s first goal.
It didn’t take long for Germany to restore their lead. Once again (yawn), Greece got torn to shreds in their half and Khedira hit an excellent volley from close range to make it 2-1. Soon after Greece conceded a cheap free kick (one of the many of the night) outside their box , and Klose headed the ball in from ‘klose’ range, thanks to some God-awful marking, to make it 3-1 to the Germans.
Marco Reus then scored what was a stunning goal – a superb finish from outside the box! 4-1, game over! And even though Greece were able to make it 4-2 after they were awarded a penalty for a Jerome Boateng handball (harsh decision as it wasn’t deliberate), it was just a consolation. They were never really in the game, and the 4-2 scoreline looks much more flattering for the Greeks than it should.
Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Mario Gomez came in later on in the game, but had little to do or contribute, as the Germans passed the ball around, playing some ole football, and kept possession in the closing stages of the game. Still not sure why Joachim Low decided to bring in Mario Gomez. Your team is not only winning by a decent margin, but looking quite comfortable, why not give someone like Kroos or Gundogan a run?
Ruthless stuff from the Germans. A strong outfit, with a plan B that really works, as Low showed today. Low’s changed breathed new life into the squad, and they played some extremely attractive and effective football today. Very much the favourites to go all the way to win the Henri Delaunay!
The Greeks? Well, fair play to them for getting this far in the tournament!
Apart from the Klose header, all 3 German goals were pretty special! Lahm with what could be the Goal of the 2012 Euro’s, Khedira with a great, controlled volley and Reus with a stunning goal as well.
(Watch this space for footage of the goals as soon as it becomes available!)
The stats pretty much confirm Germany’s domination:
- The Germans had a massive 76% possession.
- Germans had 24 shot in total, with 14 on target. Michail Sifakis was a busy man.
- Quite understandably, the Germans’ passing accuracy was 92%. Impressive.
- 15th straight competitive win for Germany.
- A bit of a worrying stat for the Germans however: they’ve kept a clean sheet in only 4 of their past 19 European Championship games, and just a single clean sheet so far in Euro 2012. Must do better.
Ozil. 2 assists, 3 shots on goal (all on target), 9 key passes, 93% pass accuracy, 3 out of 3 accurate long balls, and took 146 touches – a 100 more than Greece’s best player in this department and more than Greece’s top 3 players combined! Class as always. Should’ve been substituted and saved for the tournament once the Germans were ahead.
Close second for the MoTM: Marco Reus. Excellent with his movement and control in the first half, faded a bit in the second. Massive talent, and a player to watch out for in the coming years!
Special mention goes out to none other than Phillip Lahm. All I can say at this point: What. A. Player! Was at the heart of all German attacks during the first half. Capped a solid performance with an absolute beauty!
Fail(s) of the match:
- The entire Greek squad. How exactly did they get to the quarter finals? Outplayed, and outclassed on all levels today, on all areas of the field!
- Jerome Boateng. Must do better. Has been pretty poor at club level for Bayern Munich, and put in another average performance for the Germans at right-back. Bring in Lars Bender I say!
- Andre Schurrle. Extremely selfish when in possession, always looking to take a shot from tight angles when he had better alternatives available at his disposal. 6 shots on goal attempted, 1 on target!
- The turf. Both goalkeepers spilled each shots, because the turf was terrible.
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