The second quarter-final of Euro 2012 appears to be a real David and Goliath clash as Germany take on Greece, with Germany hotly favoured after cruising through their group and Greece with somewhat of an off-pitch score to settle.
Ahead of this politically charged encounter we highlight the key player battles and provide all the stats and facts you need ahead of what promises to be one of the tensest atmospheres of the tournament so far…
Theofanis Gekas v Holger Badstuber
The Bayern Munich centre back was perhaps considered one of the weaker links in the German team before the tournament. However Badstuber has proved critics wrong and his pairing with Mats Hummels has been impenetrable. It should be a relatively straightforward game for Badstuber as it is unlikely that the Greeks will be allowed much room to attack the Germans. Gekas at 32 is one of the veteran’s for the white and blue and since Giorgos Karagounis is suspended, the pressure falls on him to make the most of the rare opportunities that come his way if Greece are to have any chance. Badstuber should be able to keep Gekas under control.
Mesut Ozil v Konstantinos Katsouranis
If Greece are to have any chance in this match Katsouranis will have to stick to Ozil from start to finish. Ozil plays a crucial creative role in the space behind Mario Gomez and will look to draw the Greek defenders out and create gaps. If Greece are to stay solid and frustrate the Germans into submission Katsouranis will need to deny the tricky attacker any space and try to instil the dogged spirit that inspired him and his nation to winning the European Championships in 2004.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos v Mario Gomez
Mario Gomez is currently joint top scorer at the tournament with three goals and will be looking to add to his tally against Greece. He is a big physical presence but also has a deft touch as his exquisite turn for his first against Holland demonstrated. Papadopoulos will have to maintain the dogged back-to-the-wall defending that has helped his side progress from their group and stay tight to Gomez. With Greece’s poor goal scoring record it seems likely that Germany will only need one or two goals to win, so Papadopoulos’ job is even more crucial.
FACTS AND STATS...
Germany topped Group B winning all three of their games. They comfortably overcame Portugal 1-0, followed by a 2-1 victory over their great rivals the Netherlands. Their final game was a hard fought 2-1 win over Denmark.
Greece finished runners up in Group B. They started their campaign with a 1-1 draw with hosts Poland. This was followed by a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic. However a shock 1-0 win over favourites Russia was enough to send them through to the knockout stage.
The winner of tonight’s game will play the winner of Sunday’s clash between England and Italy.
Greece will be missing hero Giorgos Karagounis who scored the winning goal against Russia after he received a second booking of the tournament in the same game.
Jerome Boateng returns for Germany after his suspension. There are only four players walking the disciplinary tightrope in this game.
Players on a booking: Greece: Dimitris Salpingidis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torossidis. Germany: Helder Badstuber
DID YOU KNOW...
Germany have history on their side. They have never lost to Greece in eight previous clashes and have also won all four European Championship quarter-finals they have contested. The record is W5, D3, in favour of Germany.
The most recent games between the two nations came in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Germany won 2-0 in Hamburg in September 2000 and 4-2 in Athens in March 2001; Miroslav Klose is the only survivor from the last meeting - he scored in that match.
Angela Merkel, now a very unpopular figure in Greece, will be making an appearance at the match as she is considered a lucky charm for the Germans. She witnessed their 4-0 win over Argentine in the World Cup, but she wasn’t present for their 1-0 loss to Spain.
Greece's only quarter-final appearance at a major tournament was the 1-0 triumph over France at Euro 2004, a competition they went on to win.
The Hellenic outfit have scored in 21 of the 24 matches under Fernando Santos - the exceptions all ended as goalless draws. However, they only managed one goal in each of their past eight matches.
Unlike their seasoned opponents, Greece have never been part of a penalty shoot-out at a tournament. They have also missed their last three penalties – Giorgos Karagounis missed from the spot in their first group game against Poland and Giorgos Samaras and Kostas Katsouranis did the same against Armenia on 31 May.
The Euro Club Index has Germany marked down as clear favourites tonight with a 75.5 per cent chance of progressing to the semi-finals while the Greeks are given only a 24.5 per cent chance.Reuse content