This match-up looks like the most lopsided pairing in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, and it may turn out to be just that, but there are some interesting subplots to Friday’s game that could influence the outcome.
First is the economic situation involving the two nations, in which debt-ridden Greece has been bailed out, and taken to task, by Germany and its chancellor, Andrea Merkel.
“Bring us Merkel,” shouted one Greek headline after the national side advanced to the quarters. And they’re going to get her: the chancellor moved some meetings around and will attend the match.
As for the second part of that headline—“You will never get Greece out of the Euro”—well, that seems like a bit of whistling past the graveyard. Greece will put 10 men behind the ball on Friday, hope and pray they don’t give up a goal, and try to nick one at the other end. It’s a strategy that could work—and has worked before—but we wouldn’t put too much money on it beating this German team, which looks like the best side in the tournament.
On the other hand, the most famous time Greece’s negative football won the day was back in 2004, when, led by German coach Otto Rehhagel, they won the Euros.
Rehhagel led Greece’s national team from 2001 to 2010 and also qualified them for the 2010 World Cup. The past 11 years have been by far their most successful era—and the foundations for it were built by a German.
But Greece has never beaten Germany in eight meetings (five losses, three ties), and we don’t see that changing on Friday … No, wait—scratch that: Our Man at the Valley just pointed out that Greece did win the very first meeting between the two nations. Highlights here:
Apparently, things haven’t changed much since then: “As you’d expect, it’s a much more defensive lineup” for the Greeks. Haha. Some other things we enjoyed from that clip:
• Beckenbauer’s inclusion in the German midfield.
• “Aristotle, very much the man in form.”
• “Nietzsche’s third booking in four games.”
• “The Germans are disputing it. Hegel is arguing that reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.”
Back in the modern era, here are some match facts ahead of Friday, none of them boding very well for Greece:
• Germany has won its last 14 competitive games—a record for the German federation, which is saying something.
• Germany has scored in each of its last 19 games.
• None of Greece’s last 10 Euro goals have arrived before minute No. 42.
• Greece has attempted the fewest shots (17) of all eight quarterfinalists.
• Germany has advanced to the semis five of the last six times it has reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament.
The game kicks off at 2:45 on ESPN.