Favored Germany is cautiously optimistic against Greece | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 22.06.2012
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Favored Germany is cautiously optimistic against Greece

Greece have a difficult task against the heavily favored Germans in tonight's quarterfinal matchup. The Germans must be cautious, though, as they take on a defensive Greek side that won Euro 2004.

Fans are expecting a tightly contested affair in tonight's Euro 2012 quarterfinal matchup between Germany and Greece in Gdansk. Germany are the favorites, coming into the match off the back of three Group B wins, while Greece will look to replicate the defensive style that made them underdog champions in 2004.

Germany captured audiences with their fluid attacking style at the 2010 World Cup, but have yet to firmly establish themselves as a truly dominant team at this tournament.

Nonetheless Coach Joachim Löw is not expected to make any major changes to his side, which have won every game thus far. Only Jerome Boateng, returning from suspension, will replace Lars Bender at right back.

Otto Rehhagel, the coach of Greece, celebrates with the team after beating Portugal 1-0 at the end of the Euro 2004 soccer championship final match at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Sunday, July 4, 2004.

Greece won Euro 2004 with an effective defensive style under German Coach Otto Rehhagel

Löw knows that playing Greece is never an easy task. "We thought the Russians were the big favorites against the Greeks, but we all saw what happened there," Löw told the AFP news agency. "It will be a very tight match, because the Greeks aren't a team that you can rip apart easily."

Greece are expected to sit back and defend for the duration of the match, hoping to catch Germany out on a counter attack. But an early goal could spell disaster for the Greeks, who have scored just three times this tournament.

"They are comfortable with the way they play, they don't want to constantly attack and are happy to defend," said Löw.

Greek Captain Giorgos Karagounis, a European champion in 2004, will miss the match through suspension. He was booked for diving in Greece's last match against Russia. AEK Athens midfielder Grigoris Makos is expected to fill in for Karagounis, while Kostas Katsouranis will take over as captain.

Coach Fernando Santos knows his Greece team face an uphill battle, but he remains positive. "The Germans are the favorites, but they also have to prove it on the pitch for 90 or 120 minutes," he said in a press conference. "If you look at it as a contest between David vs. Goliath, that's good, because David won."

Angela Merkel jubilant as she watches German goal in Holland match

Merkel has been asked to be more subdued in her reaction to German goals

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be attending the match at a time of Eurozone tension between the two countries. Greek forward Georgios Samaras wants to ignore the extra attention the financial crisis brings. "You shouldn't mix politics and football," he said. "It's a game, nothing else, simple as that."

"For me, I hope that it is her first and last match at the European Championship," said teammate and goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.

dr/rg (AFP, AP, dpa )

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