Created on 21-06-2012 at 00:00 AM
Germany enter the knockout phase at Euro 2012 on the back of three group wins out of three, but it is now deliver-or-die time. In Friday evening's quarter-final, Joachim Löw's team meet surprise package Greece in Gdansk, where anything other than a win for the overwhelming favourites would rate as a shock upset.
“Given the targets we’ve set ourselves, these are opponents we have to be overcoming," said captain Philipp Lahm in the build-up to the clash with the 2004 European champions, who bravely fought their way out of a group including favourites Russia and Poland. “We know it's entirely up to us whether we win or not. If we play to our strengths, we'll beat the Greeks," added Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Call for patience
Löw has prepared his team for opponents who will undoubtedly set out a defensive stall. “From a footballing point of view, it's no stroll. Greece will defend incredibly strongly. The job is to score, and we'll have to be patient," commented Thomas Müller. “This team thinks in terms of success, so we're not even contemplating the prospect of being knocked out. We’ll do what we have to do."
A willingness to run, skill on the ball and setting up waves of attacks will be essential, demanded Löw. Greece are likely to lie even deeper than the Danes in the Germans’ previous match, seeking to launch deadly counter-attacks. “We need to watch that we don't concede the opening goal and end up charging headlong into a Greek wall. It would be fatal if we played into their hands like that," echoed defender Mats Hummels.
Realising a dream
“Hopefully, we'll contest six matches at this tournament," remarked Löw. The schedule posted at the Germany team base notes the dates and times of the last three potential games in Gdansk, Warsaw and Kyiv. However, the first step has to be victory over the Greeks, followed by a classic semi-final against England or Italy, where the winners will certainly have earned their place in the final.
“We want to make our dream come true," noted Müller, eyeing the last and greatest match of the tournament on 1 July in the Ukrainian capital. Löw declined to rule out selection or tactical changes to his line-up, although major tinkering would be a surprise. The only likely alteration is the recall of Jerome Boateng after suspension for stand-in full-back Lars Bender.
Huge support at home
“I sense real desire within myself to turn in a perfect performance. I hope we come close to that against Greece," said Schweinsteiger, thrilled and delighted by the passionate levels of support back home. “I'm not only playing for myself. I want to win on behalf of 82 million Germans," declared the 26-year-old.