There was a lot of debate going into the match over Low’s team selection for this match. Some were arguing it was merely a tactical decision to drop Podolski, Muller and Gomez. Few others said, it was because of below par performances from Podolski and Muller, in particular. I suppose we will never truly find out the answer, but one thing was sure last night, Germany needed to freshen things up. Even though the opposition was the weakest Germany had faced in this tournament, there was a certain degree of caution necessary. We often witness teams dominating possession to an embarrassing degree but somehow don’t translate it on the score sheet. It looked like this might go down the same route as well. When Reus and Ozil squandered some excellent early chances, I feared a repeat of the Champions’ League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. And when, Greeks equalized in the 2ndhalf I was convinced this will get ugly. But what Greeks lacked was indeed a certain figure of Drogba. They were also poor quality wise in every department. What I really enjoyed last night was the speed of play had increased considerably in comparison to last three matches. Reus and Schurrle added the much needed pace on both wings, something that Muller and Podolski had failed to give. Klose, too, was more involved in connecting with 5 midfielders around him than Gomez usually gets. What Klose doesn’t have is that powerful shot which Gomez often provides.
After dominating most of the first half and not scoring, Lahm took it upon himself to lead his team from the front. When given a yard of space, he unleashed a ferocious drive from just outside the box to open the scoring. We saw it coming really; it was a question of when rather than if. Germans were mightily relieved going into the half time with that lead. I would presume, they would’ve been extremely nervous in the 2nd half had they not taken the lead. However, the goal calmed their nerves a lit too much for my liking. Germans started to look extremely complacent in the 2nd half and were duly punished by Samaras just 10 minutes into the 2ndhalf. A quick break down the right side saw Salpingidis cross the ball in for Samaras at the far post. Boateng was outsmarted by the Greek forward and to everyone’s shock the game was level. It was just what the doctor ordered for the Germans. They realized they had been lazy and sloppy. They realized the game was nowhere near being over. They
upped the tempo rightly and soon took the lead again from Khedira’s delightful volley. They learned from their mistake and did not take the foot off the pedal. In a matter of minutes Germans were leading 4-1 with goals from Klose and Reus. It was nothing more than what the Germans had deserved. For once, the possession actually reflected on the score line. However, the Greeks went forward for one last time and claimed a consolation from the penalty spot after handball from Boateng. I think that was actually a blessing in disguise and may avoid complacency setting in for the next game.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mesut Ozil
Some said Reus deserved this honor, but, I think Ozil was head and shoulders above every one else on the pitch. He controlled the game at will and was seen every where. He dropped deep to collect the ball, he was in the box often; he was getting in scoring positions. He was immense. Reus did very well indeed, his goal was excellent. However, I still think Ozil’s role and performance were more important to Germany.
COULD BE BETTER: Boateng + Schweinsteiger
Bayern duo weren’t at their best last night. Boateng had a shocker as he was culpable for the 1st goal. He also gave away the penalty for the 2nd however; it did seem a bit harsh. Lars Bender might be back for the next game at Right Back. In no way did Bastian have a bad game last night, but such are the standards he has set himself, anything short of excellent is a bad game for him. It looked like he was back to his best in the game against Netherlands but last night he was a bit careless. He gave away the ball more times than I have ever seen him. He was playing a deeper role compared to Khedira, but his passing wasn’t as accurate as it usually is.
POST MATCH REACTION:
- Philipp Lahm, Germany defender
We struggled, which we shouldn’t have done. During the first 10-15 minutes, we had many opportunities to take the lead against a very defensive-minded Greece team. If you don’t score in that time, things start to get difficult. We scored the first goal in the match, and then they scored, partly because we played too carelessly, and at some points also too slowly. We made some mistakes. We definitely have to avoid doing that in the semi-finals. We can be proud of having scored four goals today, and of reaching in the semi-finals.
- Marco Reus, Germany forward
I’m glad we won the game and I’m also happy that I scored a goal. I think we dominated the match for 90 minutes, though we conceded an unnecessary equalizer
- Joachim Löw, Germany coach
For the fourth time in a row, we have qualified for the semi-final of a major tournament. Nobody thought we could have done that back in 2004. We have won 15 games in a row. We are the youngest team at this tournament and have great prospects for the future.
Greece scored two goals out of one chance. After three wins here, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my team in the slightest, but I had been planning on making the changes to the lineup for a while. I thought we had to be unpredictable against Greece, because I felt they would be ready for us. It is good to be cheeky like that from time to time
- Fernando Santos, Greece coach
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Germany, who played really well and got their win. I would also like to congratulate my team for all of the efforts they put in throughout this tournament. In tonight’s game, we didn’t find much space, and they had the majority of possession.
We should have looked to hold on to the ball more, but we practically couldn’t breathe at times.
FROM HERE ON:
- Germany: Forward and Upward. Germans have grown well as the tournament has progressed. For the first time last night I saw the fluid movement I have grown accustomed to. They will face either England or Italy in the semi final. They should be fairly confident playing against either team. But, personally I would not prefer playing England. Yes, the memory of the Champions’ League final is still fresh.
- Greece: Well, nobody expected a different outcome from this game. Perhaps the Greeks themselves didn’t really believe they could win this. There was a huge gulf of quality between the two teams and it was obvious through out the game. They will now start the qualifying round for World Cup 2014.
RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE MATCH: This didn’t really happen in the match, but I was having a conversation with a friend during the match. He said that Mario Gomez is the head of some homosexual athletes’/footballers’ community. Just made me think that homosexuality might still be an unspoken taboo in the game.