My original intention was to go to Gdansk for the Greece match, but a Bergfest and my family, coupled with train schedules and the like, meant I got stuck in Berlin. So, I braved the Fan Mile. You would think, when you see it on television, that it is an absolute crush. But, it's not. Five hundred thousand German fans and I all had breathing room, except when Germany scored. Any beer you had in your hand was knocked upwards and onwards; showering a delirious crowd. I consider it €20 very well spent, and would gladly pay any amount to see the almost total domination put forth by die Mannschaft.
Hours before the match Sport Bild somehow got a hold of Jogi Loew's line-up. Instead of the attacking formation of Mueller, Oezil, Podolski and Klose, the Bundestrainer had switched out Reus for Mueller, Schuerrle for Podolski and Klose on top for Gomez. And while I'd expected Lukas to eventually be replaced by Andre, the other two gave me a bit of pause. But, apparently again, this is why I'm not Jogi Loew.
The attacking changes gave Germany a bit of get-up-and-go that was missing in the previous group stage matches, and with it, unleashed the invigorated midfield duo of Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil. Jogi's trust in Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose was rewarded by a goal from each. Sami Khedira, with a bullet, and Philipp Lahm, with the opener from distance, also added to the tally.
What Went Right?
Even Ethniki trainer Fernando Santos gave Loew props for strategy, stating, "We weren’t expecting so many changes to Germany’s lineup. Their coach wanted to change to freshen things up, and for me it was the right move on his part." Right move, indeed. With a bench as deep as Deutschland's, it is gratifying to know that Jogi can start whatever XI he sees fit. And, that alone is a huge thorn in the side of opposing coaches, as they'll never know what they're gonna get. (I might as well stop trying to predict line-ups now.)
While UEFA gave Oezil the MOTM award- and with two assists and a 93% pass-completion ratio, it's hard to argue it- I would still tip Sami Khedira over him. Khedira, playing more upfield than Schweinsteiger, absolutely marauded through midfield. And while he didn't get on the assists sheet, his build-up in play lead to all four goals.
What Went Wrong?
Jerome Boateng was excellent in the group stage matches, but something got away from him here. His two mistakes both resulted in Greek goals. On the first he let Samaras get away from him, and the second was a converted penalty after he was deemed to handle the ball. I would consider this a one-off for now.
Andre Schuerrle, while having three excellent chances before the half, was guilty of sloppy passing. He'll need to tighten up a bit if he wants to start the semi-final match. And it pains me to say that Bastian Schweinsteiger was guilty of the same. He's been nursing an ankle injury for quite some time now, and will doubtfully be 100% during this tournament. He told Welt, "Honestly, my ankle has been causing me trouble. I have been carrying it since February and it did not heal properly." Whatever he lacks in fitness is made up for in presence, and I sincerely hope he can will himself for these next two matches.
While the final score said 4-2, this match was nothing nearly close to that scoreline. While it was a brave performance by Greece, Germany simply had too much... everything. Herr Loew continues to be a tactical master- a marionette pulling on so many strings. This was Deutschland's 15th competitive win in a row; now holding a world record for that mark. If we can get to 17, we get a big, shiny trophy!
Italy or England loom next. I'll be supporting the Three Lions, 'cos it's not really a tournament unless Germany play England, now is it?