|Greece eyeing Germany scalp|
22 June 2012
GDANSK - Greece are hoping for another Euro 2012 giant killing when they take on Germany with the political spectre of the Eurozone crisis hanging over Friday's quarter-final.
Having shocked Russia 1-0 on Saturday in Group A to confirm their place in the Gdansk last-eight clash, runners-up Greece take on Group B winners Germany, who are the only team with a 100 percent record at the European championship. The Germans are bidding to win a fourth European title and having won their three pool matches against Holland, Portugal and Denmark, plus all ten qualifiers en route to the final, the Greeks start as underdogs.
The David verses Goliath clash has added spice between two nations at the heart of the Eurozone financial crisis with one Greek paper demanding "Bring us Merkel!" after their team reached the knock-out phase. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will attend the match, has provoked anger in Greece for leading calls on Athens to impose tough austerity measures in return for financial assistance from Germany to help to bring down debt. Both teams have already fielded numerous questions as to whether politics will play a role with Germany coach Joachim Loew insisting: "As far as we are concerned, we are approaching a normal football contest".
But it will be anything but just football for many Greeks, as their proud nation owes Germany billions of euros in bailout money and where Merkel is a popular hate figure.
Panathinaikos midfielder Kostas Katsouranis said the Greeks have given no thought to their inevitable underdog status with the match having been nicknamed the "debt derby" in some quarters. "We're going to play Germany. What do you think we are thinking? That we're going to lose? That's why they are going to have a tough time," said the 33-year-old.
Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who knows all about the German team as he plies his trade with Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, said there may be a little fear in Loew's relatively inexperienced side, the youngest at Euro 2012. "I believe that (Germany) won't take us lightly," said the 20-year-old.
"Maybe in a corner of their minds, they are a little bit scared, because we have nothing to lose now." With talismanic skipper Giorgos Karagounis suspended, Greece coach Fernando Santos must do without a player, who Loew has described as the "engine" of the Greek team, after Karagounis' first-half goal sealed the win over Russia.
Denmark caused Germany a few problems before losing 2-1 on Sunday and Loew has said he wants to see his team plug holes in their midfield and create more chances up front. Germany midfielder Thomas Mueller said the Germans are too well prepared and too confident to even contemplate their elimination by the Greeks.
"Under no circumstances whatsoever," said the Bayern Munich midfielder when asked if he could accept defeat at the hands of the Euro 2004 winners. "If Greece throw us out of the tournament, we will have to accept it, but it's not something I can dedicate a lot of time to. We are success orientated and we are too focussed on victory to consider our elimination. There would be huge disappointment, no doubt."
The Greece team are set to wear black armbands in memory of Alketas "Alkis" Panagoulias, who led them to the World Cup finals in 1994 and coached the USA from 1983-85, who died on Monday aged 78. His funeral takes place on Friday.
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