In what was dubbed as the Debt Derby, Germany completed a 4-2 drubbing of a resilient Greek side and successfully became the first team ever to secure 15 consecutive wins on the national stage. To say it was a comfortable victory for Die Mannschaft is an understatement. It’s very safe to say that the scoreline does not reflect what was almost complete and total dominance from the Germans.
In a rather strange move for the Germany coach Joachim Low, there were some major changes made in the starting line-up. Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, and Lukas Podolski were all moved to the bench for a rest while legendary striker Miroslav Klose and youngsters Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus were brought into the strike force.
The first half of the game was exciting but didn’t contain a whole lot of chances. In fact at the start of the game the German side looked rather lethargic and wasteful. Klose, Reus, and Schurrle all wasted some very clear-cut chances.
Greece played a very predictable Greek game by parking the bus and being fast on the counter-attack. These are the same tactics that won them the Euro competition in 2004, and in the first half it actually looked like it would work against the Germans as well.
The midfield looked very scattered in the first half and even though Reus and and Schurrle were moving forward and making shots, they were wasteful. Many will blame the muddy pitch, which is fair, but much of it was due to poor shots.
Finally in the 39th minute, Mr. Reliable, Philipp Lahm was able to expose a lapse the packed Greece defense and slotted in a beautiful goal. Not too long after, the halftime whistle was blown and the Germans went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Joachim Low likely yelled at his team in the locker room over wasted chances, and the Greeks were likely told to defend more and counter, because it had to work eventually.
After the start of the second half, the tried and true Greek tactic once again proved effective as Georgios Samaras equalized for Greece. Poor marking from Boateng allowed the Celtic striker to equalize, and German fans were suddenly on the edge of their seats. At this time, Munich fans were beginning to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flashbacks of the Allianz Arena disaster against Chelsea.
However, despite the tenacious tactics of the Greeks, they were not destined to cause a major upset in the Euro 2012 and there would be no repeat of Euro 2004.
Sami Khedira would go on to send Die Mannschaft ahead in the 61st minute which would give the Germans the momentum take the match by the throat. From there, Greece conceded a corner that would prove to be the nail in the coffin as Miroslav Klose proved once again why he is a legend for Die Mannschaft. The 34-year old striker smashed a great header into the back of the net and Germany was up 3-1.
But they weren’t done yet.
It was inevitable really that one of the young, hungry German players would score, and that player was none other than Marco Reus, potentially next year’s Bundesliga Player of the Year and Borussia Dortmund’s new signing. Reus slammed in another great goal, bringing Germany up to 4-1. Game, set, match and a great reward for Reus, who had been fantastic most of the night.
Feeling the pressure, Greece showed lots of fighting spirit as they started to move out of the box and started to attack with Germany soaking up the pressure. Boateng, who defended well most of the night, made a critical error as the ball slapped his arm in the penalty area. Greece were awarded a penalty, and then the game was suddenly 4-2 in the 89th minute. A consolation prize really, because the game was more or less over.
Overall there was lots to be impressed by with the Germans, at least in the second half. Despite the poor finishing in the first half, the new kids were wonderful with their attacking. Schurrle and Reus both created lots of chances and took lots of shots, the latter being awarded with the game winning goal. Even Mario Gotze who has had questions over fitness finally made an appearance for the team in the later stages of the game.
Now the real question Low faces is to chance his starting line-up to include Reus in the next game.
The midfield was solid overall with great performances from Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. Both of the Real Madrid men created lots of chances and took plenty of shots, Ozil getting two assists and Khedira getting the clutch goal. Khedira put on a real Man of the Match performance by creating so many chances and eventually scoring the goal that would save the Germans from an upset.
The biggest disappointment would have to be midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who hardly looked like the man who decimated the Netherlands midfield. His passing was poor, his tackles were off, and one of the times when he gave away the ball lead to a Greek equalizer.
Schweinsteiger admitted that he was exhausted after the game against Denmark, and likely should have been rested today. But was it exhaustion or is the German international still not at 100% fitness? This will be something that Low will have to think about for the next game, but there will no doubt be calls to bring Toni Kroos on for the next game ahead of Schweinstieger.
Overall, this game was almost everything a Germany fan could have asked for. Wonderful play from both veterans and youngsters alike, some tension to make things interesting, and lots of goals. Goals were not the only statistic that the Germans dominated, as they held 66% possession. At half time, the Germans had held 80% possession.
Germany has once again established themselves as the most dominant team in the Euro 2012, and have shown exactly why they are the biggest contenders to de-throne Spain.
Germany will go on to face either Italy or England in the Semi-finals. Whoever comes forward to face Germany will certainly have a challenge ahead of them.