Tournament favourites Germany will take on underdogs Greece in the second quarter final of the European Championships in Gdansk on Friday.
Of the eight teams which advanced to the quarter finals, Germany was the only side to do so with three wins out of three. Joachim Low's men dictated the pace and tempo in group games against Portugal, Holland and Denmark and were never really challenged by the opponents in any of those matches. Die Mannschaft were touted as pre-tournament favourites and have lived up their billing so far, meaning they are odds-on favourites to progress past Greece.
Meanwhile, after opening the competition with a draw and a loss, many thought Greece would bow out of the tournament, ahead of their final group game against Russia. However, captain Giorgos Karagounis fired his team into the lead just before the break and the Greeks defended brilliantly in the second half to emerge with the win and a spot in the quarterfinals, at the expense of the Russians.
Political Angle: This game has turned into one with a strong political edge, a fact evident by the economic pressure on Greece and the prominence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in EU affairs. The Greeks feel they have been dictated to and humiliated by German politicians from the very start of the Eurozone crisis, as the nation had to introduce sweeping austerity measures in return for bailout payments. The European giant, meanwhile, stuck to their policy even though the situation in Greece has worsened and homelessness and unemployment have soared. Greece coach Fernando Santos stated his players had special motivation to face Germany.
Team News and Tactics:
Germany: Low has no fitness or suspension concerns ahead of this clash and will go ahead with his 4-2-3-1 formation. Defender Jerome Boateng is available after serving a ban and should replace Lars Bender at right-back, despite the latter scoring the winner against the Danes in the last game. The rest of the team is expected to be the same, meaning the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos and Per Mertesacker will continue to wait for a start.
Greece: Santos will be without captain Giorgos Karagounis and left-back Jose Holebas, who are both suspended for this tie, while goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias remains sidelined due to a hamstring problem. Georgios Tzavelas has already occupied Holebas place as the left-back and the likes of Sotiris Ninis, Grigoris Makos and Giorgos Fotakis will battle for Karagounis' attacking midfielder spot in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
- Germany have reached the Euro quarter finals four times before and have gone on to the final every time
- Greece have appeared in the last eight of a major competition only once before - Euro 2004 - a tournament they went on to win
- The Germans have never lost to the Greeks, winning five times in eight meetings
- Low's side have won their last 14 competitive games - a national record
- Greece have scored only once in each of their last eight games
- Holger Badstuber, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Dimitris Salpingidis and Vasilis Torosidis are all a booking away from suspension
- Germany striker Mario Gomez and Portugal captain Cristano Ronaldo are joint-top scorers of the tournament with three goals, along with Croatia's Mario Mandzukic and Russia's Alan Dzagoev, both of whose teams have been eliminated
Possible starting line-up:
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Muller, Ozil, Podolski; Gomez
Greece (4-2-3-1): Sifakis; Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Tzavelas; Katsouranis, Maniatis; Salpingidis, Ninis, Samaras; Gekas
Where to Watch Live:
You can follow the game live from 7:20 pm BST on iTV 1 and iTV 1 HD, as well as BBC Radio 5 live and the official UEFA Web site.