Germany withstood an improbable Greece fightback to breeze into the semi-final with an emphatic 4-2 victory
Preamble, aka Don't Mention The Economy Hello and welcome to our live blog on the Eurozone crisis. Most of the talk in the build-up to Germany v Greece has been about the Euro rather than the Euros, and about Angela Merkel (he's a false nine who can also play as a regista, right?) rather than Mesut Ozil. In this dark, musty corner of the Guardian office, however, lurk simple folk who don't know anything about politics, business and all that Real Life stuff, so let's leave all that at the door. Please, I beg of you, no EUROBANTER™ and no mention of the word 'economy'.
Instead, let's concentrate on potentially the most one-sided European Championship quarter-final since Holland whacked Yugoslavia 6-1 in 2000. Mind you, we said the same on the equivalent Friday night in June 2004, when a Greece side that had scraped through the group were given not a solitary prayer against the defending champions France. Back then, their coach Otto Rehhagel said they needed "a miracle" to win the game. This time their stand-in captain Kostas Katsouranis says they need a "minor miracle" to win the game. Given that Greece beat France in 2004, there's not really any point Germany turning up tonight, is there?
The smarter kids among you will notice that this is our half-arsed attempt to build a bit of excitement – anything can happen! - but our heart's not really in it. Germany will surely win this game. They beat Portugal, Holland and Denmark without getting out of second gear, and you have to fancy any team that can negotiate the Group of Death with such impressive economy. BAH!
Kick off is at 7.45pm.
The winners face death by Two Banks of Four in the semi-final.
A spectacularly brief history of Germany v Greece at major tournaments Greece and West Germany drew 0-0 at Euro 80. That's it. Next!
Token retro clip about how great German football can be If this isn't football porn, then I don't know what is. Sound on when you watch this, please.
Token retro clip about how great Greek football can be If this isn't football porn, then I don't know what etc.
6.28pm "This has surely got to be the best game between Greece and Germany, hasn't it?" says Peter Harmer, a fraction before Dan Davis.
6.38pm In other news, Manchester United have confirmed the signing of Shinji Kagawa. Want to know what all the fuss is about? Then you'd better get on YouTube. Or, if you're still into that oldfangled reading thing, you can peruse this piece I wrote about him earlier today. He is going to be a revelation.
Team news The rumours are true. Sainsbury's really are doing a 2 for £16 offer on Pampers Active Fit. And Trinny and Susannah-approved German coach Joachim Low has fixed what ain't broke by omitting three of his attacking players for tonight's game. Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez have been replaced by Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose. With the right-back Lars Bender also making way for Jerome Boateng, who is available again after suspension, all of Germany's goalscorers in the tournament are on the bench. Maybe they're planning to win on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Goals? Where we're going we don't need goals.
We don't know whether the three attackers have been omitted or rested. The latter would be a fascinating and (I think) unprecedented piece of rotation in the knockout stages of a major international tournament. On social networking travesty Twitter, however, my fellow Guardian writers (sorry, I can't bring myself to use the word Guardianista; no word that ends in '-ista' to describe a group of people is acceptable, right?) Jonathan Wilson and Raphael Honigstein reckon it's for tactical reasons, because Germany will have to play attacking rather than counter-attacking football against Greece's 9-0-0-0-0-0-0-1 formation. Reus and Schurrle are subtler players than Podolski and Muller. It seems reports of German arrogance have been greatly exaggerated.
Greece make two changes from the side that bundled Russia onto an early plane. Sotiris Ninis comes in for Fanis Gekas – which according to my handy Uefa press kit means the beard to be feared, Dimitris Salpingidis, will play up front – and Grigoris Makos replaces the suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis. Giorgos Tzavellas starts at left-back despite a leg problem; Greece's other left-back, Jose Holebas, is suspended.
Germany (4-2-3-1) Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Reus, Ozil, Schurrle; Klose.
Subs: Wiese, Gundogan, Schmelzer, Howedes, Podolski, Muller, Bender, Mertesacker, Kroos, Gotze, Gomez, Zieler.
Greece (4-2-3-1) Sifakis; Torosidis, Papastathopoulos,
Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Tzavellas; Makos, Maniatis; Ninis, Katsouranis, Samaras; Salpingidis.
Subs: Chalkias, Malezas, Liberopoulos, Mitroglou, Fotakis, Gekas, Fortounis, Fetfatzidis, Tzorvas.
7.13pm Have you read this week's Joy of Six: European Championship controversies? If not, why not? Eh? Eh?
The best thing you'll see today, apart from Mesut Ozil floating languidly across the green for 90 minutes, is this, which comes from my
fellow Guardianista colleague Tom Lutz. The Larry David print is particularly majestic.
Actually, this might be the best thing you see today Look at his face! Just look at his face!
7.27pm "I dunno how many MBMers would have watched Reus for Gladbach, but I can assure them that he is staggeringly good," says Shyam Sandilya. "I think against an obdurate and organized Greek defence a bit of extra creativity will be provided by Reus and if the chemistry isnt right, Müller can always come in. With a front four of Lewondowski, Reus, Götze and Kuba with Perisic and Großkreutz off the bench, Dortmund look really scary this season." Even with the post-Shinji blues?
7.39pm "Looking forward to your MBM coverage," lies Drew Gough, before getting down to brass tacks. "Awesome lady Shannon Gormley and I wrote a match review of the game already. It's a pisstake of every single article that has stressed how this is a Eurozone showdown. We've taken it to its illogical conclusion."
7.43pm Kitwatch. Germany are in white; Greece are in blue; Joachim Low is wearing an exquisitely tight white pinstripe shirt.
1 min After that stupid countdown, Greece kick off from right to left. The kick off then has to be retaken 15 seconds later. No idea why.
2 min Germany are all over Greece. Reus plays a slick one-two with Ozil down the right and slides a low cross towards Klose, who was unmarked six yards from goal. It was slightly behind Klose, who slipped anyway. Moments later, Samaras went slightly over the ball on Khedira – a one-footed challenge, but still not a great one. Khedira receives a bit of treatment and is okay to carry on.
4 min Schurrle has a goal disallowed for offside! Khedira's low shot from 20 yards took a slight deflection and was hopelessly spilled by the keeper Sifakis. It ran loose and was stabbed in by one of Schurrle and Klose, who got to the ball almost simultaneously. Schurrle was offside when Khedira had the shot; Klose wasn't. The assistant referee couldn't really tell who got the touch – I have no idea – so he had to raise the flag I suppose.
5 min I think Greece have had a kick, but I can't recall a specific example. If Germany score early, this could be brutal.
6 min Khedira blooters the ball high over the bar from 25 yards.
7 min "I think 'Sandinista' was acceptable during the Nicaraguan revolution," says Dan Smith. "Although not to the dictatorship. Other than that, you're right."
8 min Greece have their first attack, and a meek 25-yarder from Makos is easily saved by Neuer.
9 min "If the world turns on its axis and both Greece and England prevail in their quarter-finals," begins David Wall, "would we have a contender for most-negative-game-at-a-major-finals that could rival Switzerland vs. Ukraine at the World Cup in 2006?" I have no idea what you're talking about. My snout in the England party tells me Roy is going to invert TBOF and play 2-4-4 against Italy.
11 min Out of nowhere, Greece break two-on-two, but Katsouranis is terribly indecisive and allows Schweingsteiger to get back and challenge him. Moments later, Germany open Greece up with ease. Klose lays the ball off to Khedira, who slips a lovely through ball for Reus, running right to centre away from Tzavellas. His first touch takes him into the area, but then the ball sits up awkwardly and he slices his left-footed shot wide.
14 min Samaras is booked for persistent offending, which is quite an achievement after only 14 minutes. A few seconds after flattening Khedira, he makes another hapless attempt to win possession and treads on Schweinsteiger's ankle.
16 min "I've been struggling with this idea that the Greek coach looks uncannily like an American character actor and I can't come up with the actor's name, nor any films he's been in," says Jared Barnes. "I imagine him as a less than impressed father of a youngish daughter in a rom-com. Very low-key, long-suffering. Haggard beyond his years by the over-weaning nature of his far more characterful wife." For the cineistas among you, here's a picture of the Greek coach. Any idea?
17 min It's all Germany. But then you knew that. They are playing some excellent stuff, with Reus and Khedira especially prominent.
19 min "The Greek coach is a little bit like a weathered Steve Coogan..." says Nicole Naude.
22 min Greece have done pretty well to restrict Germany to just the one clear chance. They are playing for penalties, already.
23 min Ozil misses a golden chance! It was made superbly by Reus, who came infield from the right, played a one-two with Klose and then, as defenders converged, shifted it smartly to the right to Ozil. He was in all sorts of space, 12 yards from goal, but his sidefooted shot was far too close to Sifakis, who was able to push it out before a defender punted it behind for a corner. That, I suppose, is one of Ozil's few weaknesses. He is a glorious player, as aesthetic as any in the world – but unlike the truly great players in football history, he is not a killer.
24 min Two more chances for Germany in the space of 60 seconds. Reus's firm near-post shot is turned behind by Sifakis, who had his angles covered. From the resulting corner, Reus (or was it Schurrle? Look he was blond, okay) screws a first-time shot across goal and wide from 10 yards.
25 min This is getting ridiculous. Reus has missed another chance. The ball ran loose across the area, 12 yards from goal, and as it bounced up Reus sliced a fierce shot just wide of the near post. He should have done better, and on the sideline Joachim Low is waving his hands around in frustration like an eejit.
27 min "The Greek coach? Has to be Fred Gwynne, late of The Munsters," says Bronwyn Jones.
30 min See 17 min.
31 min Hummels moves forward, probably out of boredom, but he loses the ball and that allows Greece to launch a one-on-six break through Samaras. The poor sod. He kept the ball well, turned round to look for support and realised there was nobody within 40 yards of him.
32 min That was a bit better from Greece. They sent three whole players forward, and Ninis's placed shot from the right side of the box forced an awkward save from Neuer, diving to his right. He couldn't hold it but there was nobody following up.
33 min Schurrle keeps a difficult ball in play down the left wing, deceives Torossidis and then places a right-footed curler wide of the far post from the left side of the box.
34 min "The Greek Coach looks like Jeffrey Tambor," says Robyn Schelenz. "No?"
36 min Ozil moves smoothly away from two defenders before laying the ball to Khedira, whose thumping 20-yard shot is again deflected and again fumbled by Sifakis. It almost comes back to Khedira before a couple of Greece defenders put it behind for a corner.
37 min The ITV commentator Peter Drury, the nicest man on the planet apart from me, has just offered a veiled criticism of Greece's negative approach. This tells you all you need to know. They're barely bothering to cross the halfway line.
GOAL! Germany 1-0 Greece (Lahm 39) If you want a job done, get Philipp Lahm to do it. He is just a glorious footballer. After all those misses from the forward players, the captain Lahm decided to get the job done himself. He picked up a crossfield pass from Khedira in an inside-left position, moved away from a pathetic excuse for a challenge from Ninis and then, as the ball sat up perfectly 20 yards from goal, cut across a storming right-footed shot that swooshed into the far corner, through the outstretched fingers of the keeper Sifakis. Some might say Sifakis could have done better as he dived to his left, but it was beautifully struck. I don't know if the keeper was culpable; the defenders certainly were. The original challenge on Lahm was woolly at best, and then nobody got out to block the shot.
41 min "The Greek Coach is the late Jerry Orbach," says Nathan Gemignani, fearlessly outing the first dead identity thief to manage a team at a European Championship.
42 min Greece are up a well-known creek, and the paddle salesman has gone home for the night.
43 min Schurrle's cross-shot from the left of the box is deflected wide for a corner. It comes to nothing.
45+1 min Schurrle has been peppering the Greek goal all half and comes closer than ever with a lovely rising shot from the edge of the area that skims the side netting at the near post.
Half time: Germany 1-0 Greece That was painfully one-sided. See you in 10 minutes for more of the same, or the most dramatic twist since The Crying Game/The Usual Suspects/Fight Club/Turner & Hooch.
Amy Hordes (and, erm, hordes of others) might have nailed it. "The Greek coach," says Amy, "looks more like a Portuguese Elliot Gould."
Statgasm of the day Greece's pass-completion in the first half was apparently 46 per cent. Forty-six per cent! You could play Carlton Palmer in the hole, on stilts, with a hangover, and he'd have a higher pass-completion ratio than that.
"Amy has it!" says Jared Barnes. "That's exactly who I was thinking of! Thank you!" Don't thank me, thank me.
entertainment with Mac Millings
"Dearest Rob, With the likes of France, Italy and England left in the competition, some of the finest cheeses in the world are still represented at Euro 2012. In honour of that, I present to you my All-Time Cheese XI; and I'm sure you'll agree, cheese a beauty:
Christian "For" Maggio
Colin Mini Babybel
Roquefort Santa Cruz
Coach: Neufchât-el Tel
Yes, there are 12. It wasn't ch-easy to drop any of them."
46 min Greece make a double change at half time, with Fanis Gekas and Giorgos Fotakis replacing Giorgos Tzavellas and Sotiris Ninis. Gekas will go up front, with the beard to be feared, Salpingidis moving to the right of midfield.
47 min Schurrle, who all good Geordie-Germans will surely nickname "Ameobi", starts the second half with a penetrative run down the left. He and Reus have looked really lively, if a little wasteful. The depth Germany have is mildly terrifying.
48 min Across the desk, Evan Fanning tells me that Greece are 70-1 to
cross the halfway line win this in 90 minutes.
49 min "Based on your MBM of the goal, it seems somewhat similar to the one he scored to open the 2006 World Cup vs Costa Rica," says John Rocha, "but surely it could not have been as glorious as that wonder strike?" No it wasn't quite as smooth. It was from a very similar position, but this time he cut across it with the outside of his right foot rather than placing it with the inside of the right. It also didn't go right in the corner; Sifakis got fingers on it as he dived to his left. It was still a wonderfully emphatic goal, though.
50 min Fotakis lumps a ball forward towards Gekas, who is literally 40 yards away from the nearest team-mate. The formation really is 9-0-1. It's like watching Man Utd in the Nou Camp in 2008.
52 min Reus plays a nice ball into Klose from the right and keeps running. Klose surprisingly eschews the shot and tries to play a reverse pass to Reus, but overhits it and the chance is gone. That was a really good opportunity, either for the shot by Klose (albeit from a tightish angle) or to give Reus a clear shot from 10 yards out.
54 min "Ozil is a bit disappointing I find," says Andrew Hurley. "He doesn't control, dominate or affect games as much as I had been led to believe." I know what you mean, and this comes back to him not being a killer, although his goal/assists stats are better than you might think. You'd also expect him to become more ruthless as he gets older. And he really is a divine player.
GOAL! Germany 1-1 Greece (Samaras 55) She's a man! The cripple is Keyser Soze! Ed Norton is Tyler Durden! And Greece have scored! What an amazing twist. Salpingidis, the beard to be feared, surged down the right onto an excellent stabbed pass from Fotakis and then sidefooted a magnificent low cross between the German defenders and the keeper Neuer. Samaras, sliding in four yards from goal, forced it gleefully through Neuer and into the net before charging off to join an almighty Greek huddle on the touchline. What an astonishing twist. "Greece have wiped the debt out!" screams Peter Drury on ITV. Oh, Peter.
57 min I am Jack's utter speechlessness.
58 min "Re: stilts/hangover: perhaps you know, Smyth, who it was who claimed Carlton Palmer could trap the ball further than they could kick it?" says Elliot Wilson. "Apologies for leaving the preposition dangling on the end of the conversation." I think it was George Best, although that line got around about about as much as, er, George Best.
59 min It's as you were, with Germany attacking and Greece playing 9-0-1. Schurrle woofs an optimistic effort well over the bar.
GOAL! Germany 2-1 Greece (Khedira 61) Sami Khedira restores order by welting in a spectacular, almost angry volley from 10 yards. Ozil freed Boateng down the right, and he took a touch before slinging a cross into a crowded area. It dipped over the head of a couple of players at the near post and then Khedira, arriving late in front of the static Maniatis, belted a right-footed volley into the roof of the net almost before the keeper Sifakis had started to move. That's a cracking goal because it looked easier to go with the left foot, and the ball was also at a really awkward height. I've no idea how he got over the top of that volley, because 99 times out of 100 it would have gone high over the bar.
63 min Gekas misses a real chance for Greece! He moved neatly inside a defender on the edge of the area but then drove the ball high over the bar.
64 min "Ozil shone much brighter at the World Cup," says Amy Hordes. "He has a more dynamic game in him – not sure what it's going to take to draw it out in this tournament, though." TBOF?
65 min We've just seen another replay of the goal. Khedira actually shinned the volley as he roared onto the ball, but who cares? It was a dramatic, primal moment, the sort of thing we used to enjoy in football.
67 min Germany make their first substitution, with Thomas Mueller replacing Schurrle.
GOAL! Germany 3-1 Greece (Klose 68) Miroslav Klose scores for the 47th international tournament in a row, and ends the contest. It was desperate goalkeeping from Sifakis, who came into no-man's land in an attempt to get to Ozil's inswinging corner from the right. He was nowhere near, and all Klose had to do was jump above Papopdopoulous to head into the naked net from six yards.
69 min That was Klose's 64th goal for Germany – four off Gerd Muller's record – and he almost made it 65 moments later, following up a loose ball and sweeping in a low shot that was kicked behind at the near post by the besieged Sifakis.
71 min Greece make their final substitution, with Nikos Liberopoulous replacing Grigoris Makos.
73 min Klose has now scored 17 goals in major international tournaments.
GOAL! Germany 4-1 Greece (Reus 74) Pick that out! Marco Reus has slammed in another volley to make it 4-1. Ozil's subtle, silken through ball put Klose in on goal; his shot was blocked well by the advancing Sifakis and the rebound came to Reus, 15 yards from goal to the left of the near post, and he blootered his volley in off the underside of the bar. Three of Germany's four goals tonight have been brutally emphatic.
76 min Papastathopoulos is booked for a foul on Ozil, who had ghosted past him 35 yards from goal. Ozil has been a joy to watch in the second half.
77 min The German fans are ole-ing. This is, as Scott Murray calls it, Das bundestikiundtaka. Except Germany look like they're trying to score?!?!?!?!
78 min "I'm starting to hope that England go out in an honourable defeat against Italy," says Phil Sawyer. "Anything but face this German team in full flow."
79 min Germany replace one goal machine with another, Mario Gomez coming on for Miroslav Klose. The brilliant Mario Gotze is also on; he has replaced Marco Reus.
81 min Ozil almost scores the sort of goal that induces a soft, tender moan in grown men (and women, we're not sexists round here). He floated towards the area, drifted infield past a couple of players on the edge of the box but then drilled his right-footed shot straight at Sifakis, who was able to beat it away.
84 min "Goetze, Oezil and Mueller on the pitch..." says Andreas Rieß. "It's Goetzille." Who needs Xaviesta?
86 min Ozil plays a crisp one-two with Gomez and sidefoots a low shot that isn't held by Sifakis, who then smothers the loose ball just before Gomez gets there. Sifakis has spilled a few shots tonight; in his defence, the rain-sodden pitch is pretty awkward.
87 min For the third time in their last four knockout games, Germany have scored four. But it's the other game – the 0 against Spain in the World Cup semi-final, when they were a little scared – that might be most relevant. If they are to win this tournament they will probably have to beat Spain. And I still don't know how you beat Spain. Germany are two years older now, of course, and some of their players have experience of conquering Barcelona at club level. That can't do any harm.
88 min: PENALTY TO GREECE Fotakis's cross from the left hits the outstretched hand of Boateng, and it's a penalty to Greece. It might have been a harsh decision: Boateng had his back turned to play, although his arm was dangling away from his body.
GOAL! Germany 4-2 Greece (Salpingidis 89 pen) The Beard To Be Feared slides a cool low penalty to the right as Neuer goes the other way. He has had a terrific tournament.
90 min Greece have two minutes to score two goals. No.
Full time: Germany 4-2 Greece Germany go into their fourth consecutive semi-final at a European Championship or World Cup. They could have won by six, and I suppose there might be some frustration in that sense, but overall this was a fine attacking performance from a wonderful young team. Mesut Ozil was a joy to watch. Greece fought gamely in the second half, even though they were out of their depth. This was a 4-2 thrashing. Germany will face Italy or Two Banks of Four in the semi-final on Thursday. Thanks for all your emails; night.