Never mind the Group of Death, what we have in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 is the battle of debt as Germany face surprise qualifiers Greece for a place in the last four of what is turning out to be one of the best tournaments of recent years.
With the political environment in the eurozone (shorthand – Greece have no money and Germany won’t give them any) seemingly coming to a head, it was perhaps written in the stars that the financially-stricken Greeks would end up facing the country that is acting like their king maker, and it gives this fixture an extra edge.
And much like the situation around Europe politically, on a football basis it is Germany who have everything to lose from an encounter that they surely were not planning on dealing with.
Germany strolled to top place in Group B, making a mockery of their supposed difficult section by winning all three games against Portugal, Holland and Denmark, but as they looked on at Group A they could not have envisaged Greece making it through.
The Greeks, who had taken one point from two games, had to win their final match against a Russia side that had thus far been in imperious form. Few gave them a chance, yet a 1-0 win for Fernando Santos’ side gave the people back home something to shout about in these uneasy times.
Greece never show anything less than full commitment, but are painfully limited in the attacking third – let’s hope for their country’s sake the Samaras who has just been elected in Greece is more useful than his namesake who plays up front.
It had echoes of their 2004 campaign, which of course ended in glory as Greece were crowned the most unlikely of winners. A series of 1-0 wins against superior opposition was the platform for that incredible victory – can the Greeks upset the odds once more?
The prices suggest not. Santos’ side are huge outsiders at 17/2, with the draw at 17/4 and Germany strong favourites at 31/100.
Why Germany are so strongly fancied is obvious. They have been the outstanding team in the tournament so far and having beaten quality opposition in the group stage, will surely make no mistake against the vastly inferior Greeks.
They never show anything less than full commitment, but are painfully limited in the attacking third – let’s hope for their country’s sake the Samaras who has just been elected in Greece is more useful than his namesake who plays up front.
I am certain that Germany will not be beaten by Greece, so it is case of how best to get the value on a victory for Joachim Low’s men.
Germany have scored at least two goals in 14 of their last 16 outings and their attacking prowess is better than anything left in the tournament, but Greece can be a tough nut to crack.
Santos’ team only let in five goals in qualifying and looked rock solid against Russia, who themselves have an array of attacking talent.
Defence will be their basis for victory and I don’t expect them to show much attacking intent (they only scored 14 in qualifying, the lowest of any of the 16 nations competing), so Germany may find them tough to break down.
It may be going against the grain for those who expect a landslide victory, but I expect a routine, comfortable win for Low’s men rather than a rout.
The 21/10 that Germany win a match with under 2.5 goals looks a bit big – Greece are never going to open up for fear of the counter-attack and Germany can score a couple of goals and preserve their energy for more difficult tasks ahead.
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Alternatively, it is 5/4 for Germany to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 if you would prefer the security of an extra German goal – but that 21/10 price wins out for this punter.
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