So here we are: another fine team performance, and yet another major tournament semi-final. Fifteen competitive victories in a row, and two away from a record-extending fourth European Championship title. The worst thing now will be the waiting.
The Mannschaft’s second European Championship meeting with Greece would produce a game in stark contrast to that first encounter between the two sides back at Euro 1980. Free-flowing, attacking football – a performance where it very easily have been six or seven rather than just four. So now, a semi-final against either England or Italy in Warsaw’s National Stadium awaits.
Facts and Stats
This was Germany’s ninth match against Greece, and the eighth competitive encounter between the two teams. The Mannschaft still remain unbeaten against this opposition, with six wins and three draws.
The previous match against the Greeks – a World Cup qualifier played in the spring of 2001 in Athens – also resulted in a 4-2 win for the Germans, with Miroslav Klose scoring the third goal for Rudi Völler’s side. The match in 2001 was striker Miroslav Klose’s second international; yesterday’s meeting in Gdańsk was his 120th.
Yesterday’s result was Germany’s fifteenth successive victory in competitive internationals, a new world record. The record stretches back to the third place play off at the FIFA World Cup against Uruguay – where defensive midfielder Sami Khedira was also on the scoresheet.
Klose’s goal 68th minute goal was his 64th, and was also the 200th goal scored by the German national team under current Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw.
The Team and Tactics
Having played a consistent starting eleven for the opening three group matches, the German coach would make a number of significant changes in changing the face of the attack completely. Out went wingers Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller and striker Mario Gómez, and in their place came André Schürrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose.
Despite the dramatic change in personnel the Nationaltrainer would stick with the same tried and tested 4-2-3-1 approach, with the Greeks adopting a similar formation but sitting much deeper – making it look at times like a 9-0-1.
Germany were quick out of the blocks, and having had the ball in the back of the net early and creating a number of excellent chances could very easily have put the game out of sight within the first quarter of a hour. In the end they had to wait until six minutes before the break to take the lead, when skipper Philipp Lahm managed to finally breach the blue wall.
The second half would see Greece score a shock equaliser completely against the run of play, but this would if anything serve to kick-start the Germans back into life. The missed opportunities of the first half were quickly forgotten, and in a staggering thirteen minute spell the contest was effectively over as Sami Khedira, Klose and Marco Reus bulged the back of the Greek net.
A soft penalty right at the death gave Greece a more respectable scoreline – closing off what was by a distance Germany’s most exciting and convincing display at the tournament.
Conclusion and Player Ratings
Had no chance with the first Greek goal and was well beaten from the spot, but apart from that the German ‘keeper had nothing much to do over the course of the ninety minutes. When the ball did come his way he looked as confident as usual.
A positive display from the German skipper, and while he had little do do defensively we would see plenty more of him coming forward. Lahm has a habit of scoring important goals in major tournaments, and after what had been a frustrating opening spell for the team he found the back of the net with a fantastic strike to break the deadlock.
A quiet evening for the left-sided centreback, who did what he had to do against a Greek attack that offered little in the way of a threat.
Like Badstuber Hummels also had little to do. Continues to show good instincts going forward, but was occasionally caught out of position. He can’t afford to do this against better teams.
A solid enough display from the right-back, undone by his being outpaced by Samaras to allow Greece back into the game – though there was some slight shirt-tugging skullduggery from the Greek. Was good going forward, and provided an excellent cross for the second goal. Could do nothing about the harsh penalty awarded at the end.
Another solid and intelligent display by the man fast emerging as the Mannschaft’s number one defensive midfield enforcer. The flow of the game allowed Khedira to get forward more often, and both his work rate and positioning on and off the ball was again first-class. Capped off his fine display with a superb volleyed finish to score his second international goal and restore Germany’s lead in the second half.
In contrast to Khedira, another poor display from the FC Bayern man. Clearly not his usual self, Schweinsteiger’s game was littered with uncharacteristically poor passes, and he looked lethargic and detached at times. It is highly likely that he has not fully recovered from an ealier ankle injury suffered earlier in the year. Nevertheless, he remains an important cog of this young side.
Coming in for Lukas Podolski out on the left flank, Schürrle was energetic and enthusiastic going forward, and had some decent shots on goal. He fell away slightly in the second half however, and as the match went on became increasingly desperate – and greedy. Was guilty of a sloppy pass that resulted in the Greek equaliser. Replaced late on by Thomas Müller.
A stunning display by the midfield maestro, who delivered his best performance of the tournament thus far. Looked far better with the likes of Schürrle, Reus and Klose around him, and was provided a source of constant danger to the Greek defence with his delicate touch and vision. Could very easily have scored a couple of goals himself, but needs to get his finishing up to the same standard as his approach play.
An effervescent display from the Borussia Mönchengladbach youngster, who looked dangerous almost every time he touched the ball. Showed quick feet and offered excellent link-up play, combining effectively with those around him. Could have scored in the first half, but finally got himself on the scoresheets with a fanastic volleyed finish which rounded off the German scoring. Replaced by Mario Götze late on in the piece.
The perfect foil to Mesut Özil, Klose showed just what he has to offer with his short bursts of pace and intelligent positioning. Klose is something of a menace in the opposition penalty area, and rounded off what was a fine performance with his sixty-fourth international goal, four away from the great Gerd Müller’s long-standing record. Replaced by Mario Gómez once the game was effectively over.
Came on for the final quarter of the match for André Schürrle, but was unable to have much of an impact. Had one effort on goal.
A ten-minute cameo for the Borussia Dortmund teenager, who made his first major touranment bow in place of Marco Reus.
Came on for Miroslav Klose for the final ten minutes, and had enough time to set up a chance for Mesut Özil. Not enough time to do much else.
Neuer (2.5), Boateng (3), Hummels (2.5), Badstuber (2.5), Lahm (1.5), Khedira (1), Schweinsteiger (4), Reus (1.5), Özil (1), Schürrle (3.5), Klose (2). Substitutes (up to 75 minutes): Müller (3)
Neuer (3), Boateng (3.5), Hummels (2), Badstuber (2,5), Lahm (2), Khedira (1), Schweinsteiger (4), Reus (1.5), Özil (2), Schürrle (4.5), Klose (2.5)
Neuer (3), Boateng (3), Hummels (2), Badstuber (4), Lahm (2), Khedira (2), Schweinsteiger (4), Reus (2), Özil (1), Schürrle (3), Klose (2)
As usual, the same agreements and disagreements. While Kicker have agreed with me in picking Sami Khedira as the Man of the Match, Bild have plumped for Mesut Özil, whom I also give top billing – a fraction behind my MotM Khedira.
As for the worst score, Kicker have singled out André Schürrle, who despite being a little greedy perhaps doesn’t deserve that. Bastian Schweinsteiger however gets a 4 from all parties.
UEFA’s official Man of the Match: Özil.