“You should reach the limits of virtue, before you cross the border of death!”
With the backdrop of titter-tatter revolving around politics, the so called ‘Debt Derby’ was finally set to be played out on the pitch. With Angela Merkel in attendance, Joachim Low threw a few surprises into the mix. In place of Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski came Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle, while Miroslav Klose came in for Gomez up top. The only surprise for Greece was that Gekas was left on the bench, with Ninis making a start on the right-hand side, with Salpingidis moved up top. The game itself provided no surprises.
Germany started out on the front foot right from the off, their midfield showing vigour. It looked like a good move from Low, with Reus, Klose and Schurrle out to impress having been largely left out so far and it prevented the usual first XI from perhaps having any complacency. Reus in particular showed no signs of rust, flitting and floating off the right-flank very cleverly and his pace caused Greece many problems. Most of the German attacks were focused down the right side, Reus’ movement creating no end of space despite Greece sitting all their players back off Germany. It wasn’t long until Germany made some chances either, Reus himself guilty of wasting a few. The best chance came when Germany attacked with fluidity, Reus found himself in the centre, played a 1-2, before beautifully blindly laying it off to Ozil, who shot straight at Sifakis.
Greece sat back and attempted to shut up shop but Germany kept the pace of their attacks up, which caused problems. Greece found it difficult to get out of their own half and when they did, Germany snuffed them out fairly comfortably. Ninis hit a low shot towards goal but Neuer saved easily and that was about as far as went for Greece. On 39 minutes, Greece paid the price for their abject display. Germany attacked once again and with Schurrle stretching the defence widthways, Lahm had a lot of space to run into with the ball, before dispatching a perfect shot across the goalkeeper to put Germany 1-0. The half wore on with German domination and it was difficult to see how Greece could recover.
Half-time- Germany 1-0 Greece.
At half-time, Santos decided to swap Ninis for Gekas, reverting to a line-up we’ve come to be more familiar with as Salpingidis moved back out wide. Germany were unchanged and neither was the flow of the match. Germany kept pressing, causing Greece to wobble on numerous occasions. However, on 55 minutes, the unthinkable happened. Greece attacked swiftly down the right flank with Salpingidis leading the charge. Germany were stretched for numbers but Salpingidis delivered a perfect ball across the box for Samaras, who scrambled it in to the amazement of everyone in the stadium. 1-1.
Germany were initially shocked, their play looking a bit timid following the goal. Greece were revitalised and seemed to run with an extra spring or two in their steps. The Greek fans were noisy again and somehow we had a game on our hands. On the hour, Germany found their feet again. Causing the Greek block to become stressed and cracked, Germany shifted it out to the on-running Boateng down the right. His cross was a little awkward, but found Khedira in his stride, who hit a perfect strike into the net that settled German nerves again. 2-1.
Germany had found their verve again, attacking with fluidity that Greece couldn’t deal with. Reus found himself open in the box again but couldn’t get the ball to sit for him before being closed down. Other attacks bombarded Greece. In retaliation, Greece did offer a couple of counter attacks but rarely troubled Germany. On 68 minutes, Greece gave away a free-kick on their left flank. Ozil drifted the free-kick in right onto Klose’s head, who only had to guide it goalwards as Sifakis drifted out into no-man’s land to present an open net. 3-1.
It was long after when Germany put in another. Another free-flowing attack saw Ozil slip a lovely ball into Klose, whose shot rebounded out to Marco Reus, who thundered a shot off the bar. A well deserved goal for Reus to cap off a quite brilliant display that fully vindicated his inclusion in the team. Having played under Lucien Favre last season with Borussia Monchengladbach, Reus’ speed of thought and speed of play shone in the Bundesliga and played in a team characterised by fast, fluid attacks. It transferred into this game brilliantly. Greece looked dejected and had basically given up as Germany dominated the remainder of the game. That didn’t stop Greece having a last hurrah, as they won a cheap penalty from a handball, which Salpingidis dispatched to make it 4-2.
Final score: Germany 4-2 Greece
In the end, the game didn’t provide any surprises as Germany ran out comfortable winners. Greece were as predicted, turgid and defensive and were dumped out the competition. As for Germany, we saw another side to them we hadn’t seen yet so far. Players who have largely watched from the sidelines so far such as Schurrle, Reus, Klose and Gotze, all showed that they are sharp and ready to step in at any moment. We already knew the strength in depth for Germany was exceptional, but tonight they proved themselves with aplomb, albeit against an abject Greece. There’s much to be feared about for Germany, with players like Gomez, Podolski and Muller who will all be fresh for the semi-final. Low is spoilt for choice, Europe beware.