22nd June, 2012
Football: Germany outclass Greece to make Euro 2012 semis – Wrap
Germany showed their class in Gdansk, Poland on Friday to beat Greece 4-2, setting up a potential semi-final meeting with England or Italy, in a Euro 2012 quarter-final viewed against the backdrop of the simmering Eurozone crisis.
The Mannschaft showed their intent within the first five minutes, having a goal disallowed after Miroslav Klose, winning his 120th cap, followed up from close-range when goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis spilled a shot.
But after sustained pressure on the Greece goal, it was captain Philipp Lahm who broke the deadlock on 39 minutes, cracking home a fiercely swerving and dipping right-foot shot from the edge of the box.
The lead at half-time was no more than Germany deserved but the Greeks stunned Joachim Loew’s side on 55 minutes, when Giorgos Samaras slid in a Dimitris Salpingidis cross from the right.
The Greeks were not on terms for long, though, as Sami Khedira thumped in a right-foot volley from 12 yards out on 61 minutes and Miroslav Klose added a third seven minutes later, outjumping Kyriakos Papadopoulos at the near post from a corner.
Marco Reus, winning only his seventh cap for Germany, made it four on 74 minutes, following up on a blocked shot from Thomas Mueller.
Greece got a late consolation from the penalty spot after Jerome Boateng handled in the area. Salpingidis — who scored in the Greeks’ opening group game against tournament co-hosts Poland — slotted the ball calmly past Manuel Neuer
Friday’s match had been billed variously as the “derby of debt”, “battle of the bailout” or “creditors versus debtors”, with economic powerhouse Germany leading European calls for tough public sector cuts in Greece to ease crippling debt.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has borne the brunt of Greek anger at the measures, watched the match in Gdansk, northern Poland, in the company of Michel Platini, the president of European football’s governing body, UEFA>
She was booed by the Greek contingent when her picture was shown on the big screens.
Newly-elected Greek premier Antonis Samaras — no relation to the Celtic winger who scored the team’s first goal — was unable to attend, as he has a scheduled operation on Saturday to fix retinal damage, his office said.
Germany go into this year’s tournament as one of the favourites and are hoping for revenge over Spain, who beat them in the final four years ago.
La Roja take on France in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday, with both sides showing cautious respect for the other and Spain never having won against Les Bleus in a major competition.
Both coaches indicated they could make changes going into the match.
Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque said: “They will be very difficult opponents. There are still doubts about the starting line-up but that’s a healthy thing.
“It’s not just today I’ve always had 23 players at my disposal. All of them are great players and important players for their clubs, and I could use all of them. That’s why I have doubts. It would be bad to be sure of everything.”
France’s Laurent Blanc vowed to alter his starting line-up after “Les Bleus” lost their 23-game unbeaten record to Sweden in the final qualifier and said it would be foolish to face the world and European champions without doing so.
Blanc has a fully fit squad to choose from, after concerns over the fitness of Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri but French sport newspaper L’Equipe has speculated that the latter could lose his place to Jeremy Menez.
The final quarter-final match sees England take on Italy in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Sunday.