Germany moved ominously into Euro 2012's semi-finals and we look at the major talking points.
Last Updated: 22/06/12 11:20pm
A 4-2 victory over Greece in Gdansk on Friday night moved a dominant Germany into the semi-finals of Euro 2012 with a 100 per cent winning run at this summer's finals. England will meet Joachim Low's team in the next round, if they defeat Italy on Sunday, and, here, we look at some of the points Roy Hodgson and his squad may want to keep in mind.
Extra hype will always accompany an international fixture when there is some degree of tension between the countries away from the football field, and that was certainly the case in this quarter-final due to the ongoing Eurozone crisis. Many Greeks blame Germany, the continent's biggest economy, for the severity of the austerity measures they are now enduring, and will never have been more determined to beat them and wipe the smile off the face of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sitting next to UEFA president Michel Platini at the PGE Arena but surprisingly not with the colours of the German flag painted on her face, Merkel could be seen jumping for joy when her team scored.
Germany were the only team to win their three group games and also had a perfect record in qualifying, so they will not feel their work in Poland and Ukraine is done just yet. Either England or Italy will stand in their path in the semi-finals and whichever team progresses faces a daunting task, with Germany looking very well balanced and particularly dominant in midfield, where the likes of Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil set a frightening tempo. Disrupting their rhythm will be key if Italy or England wish to advance all the way to the final.
Germany are susceptible
But do not be too scared. Everyone is quaking in their boots at the prospect of taking on Low's team. However, the 2008 finalists are susceptible. They have only kept four clean sheets in their last 19 matches at European Championship finals.
Time to move on
As a nation, Greece understandably cling to the defensive formula which helped them to victory at Euro 2004. But football has moved on in the past eight years. Fernando Santos' Greece scraped through Group A with their negative approach but never truly stood a chance against Germany. In the opening 23 minutes, Greece had completed two passes in the attacking third of the field in comparison to Germany's 56. It is time for a new approach.
Low produced the shrewd tactical move of dropping/resting three-goal Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski for the victory over Greece. International finals goal machine Miroslav Klose, Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus came in as replacements. The result ensured the trio will be fresh for the semi-finals and means no member of the Germany squad will be complacent about their place in the team.
Spain complained about the state of the playing surface after being held to a draw by Italy in Gdansk, arguing that the grass was too long and dry for their short passing game. There was nothing dry about the PGE Arena pitch on Friday. But it was still problematic as heavy rain contributed to slippery conditions under foot and both teams struggled at times, although in Greece's case that may have been down to a lack of ability. It will not be an issue again in the tournament, though, with no more games scheduled to take place at the stadium.
Greece have met Germany nine times now, but are yet to win (D3 L6). Germany have progressed to the semi-finals on six of the last seven occasions at a major international tournament. They have won their last 15 competitive games, which is an international record, and scored in each of their last 20 games, equalling their longest run, which was from 1989-1991.
The Greek fans were first to appear in force at the PGE Arena. A block of about 5,000 at one end of the ground were chanting 'Hellas, Hellas'. The Germans brought over significantly more, outnumbering their opponents three to one, although the atmosphere was overwhelmingly friendly throughout the contest.