There were no surprises in the second quarter-final of Euro 2012 when Germany produced a convincing 4-2 victory over Greece on Friday night.
The biggest surprise of the match was that it took the favourites 39 minutes to take the lead. Even then it was a cracking strike from left full-back Philipp Lahm after Parma-bound Sotiris Ninis let him walk into the free space ahead and line his shot up.
Prior to Germany’s opener, Mesut Özil and Marco Reus had both missed golden chances to score and an early goal had been chalked off. Joachim Löw’s side were always in control.
Greece came out at the start of the second half and were level inside 10 minutes of the restart after Dimitris Salpingidis found freedom down the right wing to provide the cross for Georgios Samaras to slide home from close range.
Philipp Lahm was caught out of position at right back but no serious criticism for him from me required in this situation as Greece had been sitting back and throwing few players forward in their counter-attacks. Some concerns for Löw will be Jerome Boateng’s ball-watching on the goal that prevented him from cutting out Salpingidis’ cross and Holger Badstuber’s poor positioning. At no point did he get back near the ball or 18-yard box for the goal.
After that, Germany just punished Greece with 3 goals in 20 minutes. First, Germany quickly switched possession from the left side to the right, finding Jerome Boateng free down the right who’s cross was met with a sweet volley from Sami Khedira.
Minutes later it was 3-1. Özil won and took a free kick near the corner flag, and when goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis through himself into no man’s land, and the previously-impressive Kyriakos Papadopoulos didn’t get close as Miroslav Klose headed home one of the easiest goals of the tournament. Game over.
Marco Reus thumped home a fourth after Klose’s effort was parried by the goalkeeper. The Borussia Dortmund-bound forward is coming off a fantastic season with Borussia Mönchengladbach, set to replace Shinji Kagawa. He had a lively game before finally showing an end product in the 74th minute after missing a few good chances in the first half.
Greece were awarded a controversial penalty in the 89th minute when the ball struck Jerome Boateng’s arm. More out of sympathy than anything if you ask me. Salpingidis converted for my fantasy team, but Germany won’t have many concerns with conceding that goal.
Germany are now 1.51 to reach the Euro 2012 final. They are set to play Italy, or possibly England in the semi-final on Thursday. They have strength in depth, no suspensions, no known injuries and with the exception of their left forwards (Lukas Podolski and André Schürrle) and Holger Badstuber not hitting their best form so far.
There is a case to say there is a lack of experience on the pitch. But Philipp Lahm has it, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a leader on the pitch, Lukas Podolski has 100 caps. Miroslav Klose has over 100 caps. Manuel Neuer has played in a Champions League final, Per Mertesacker has 79 caps in reserve. Mesut Özil has won La Liga with Real Madrid and played regularly in the Champions League. As has Sami Khedira who is another intelligent player on the field. The Borussia Dortmund players in the squad had Champions League experience this season. Perhaps not as much international experience as most nations here, but enough in my estimation for me to class them as favourites as I have throughout.