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Germany cruise into semi-finals



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Germany booked a place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals on Friday night with a dominant 4-2 victory over Greece in Gdansk, with goals from Phillipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus sealing the win. Joachim Low’s men will now await the winner of England and Italy to see who is next in their firing line.

Meanwhile, holders Spain enter the knockout fray on Saturday, as they take on Laurent Blanc’s slightly unpredictable France team. Here is the news from Euro 2012 that Soccerlens has been reading.

Classy Germans put plucky Greece to the sword

Germany laid down another statement of intent by powering past Greece in their Euro 2012 quarter-final, with an impressive performance resulting in a 4-2 victory for Joachim Low’s men. The central European powerhouses were always favourites against the Greeks, but showed a clinical and incisive touch to book their place in the last four.

A few eyebrows were raised as Low opted to start with Miroslav Klose, Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus in his starting XI, with experienced trio Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller all slipping out of the side as dropped or rested. Despite the changes, Germany dominated the game and looked no weaker without their established attacking trident.

Low’s men came out of the blocks well and it seemed like only a matter of time before the Greeks’ stubborn rearguard would be broken. Despite this, Germany wasted a number of good early chances, with Michalis Sifakis in the Greek goal thwarting his opponents. Lazio forward Klose made his 120th appearance for his nation and looked to have opened the scoring early in the first-half, but saw his effort ruled out for offside, whilst Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira also had attempts at goal.

The deadlock was broken six minutes from the interval however, as captain Phillipp Lahm fired home with a swerving effort from the edge of the box. Fernando Santos will have buoyed his team up during half-time, and the Greeks were back on parity short after against the run of play. Dimitris Salpigidis broke free down the right flank, and his centre was converted past Manuel Neuer by Georgios Samaras at the back post.

Any rumblings of an upset were put to bed however soon after, as a German onslaught resulted in three goals in 13 minutes for the heavily-fancied side. Firstly deep-lying midfielder Khedira broke forward to volley home Jerome Boateng’s ball, and demoralise the Greek side slightly, with the teams only even for six minutes. Klose popped up with the third to effectively kill the game as a contest, as he powered home a header from Ozil’s free-kick after a mistake by Sifakis in the Greek goal. Finally, Reus lashed home a volley after Klose’s effort had reverberated off the Greek goalkeeper, with the Borussia Dortmund man’s effort crashing in off the crossbar.

The Greeks were handed a consolation effort before the end of the match and their campaign, as Salpigidis converted a penalty after Boateng was softly adjudged to have handled in the area. However, all-in-all Germany were good value for their victory and could well have scored more than the four they did get.

Germany seem to be on a collision course with Spain to determine who will lift the trophy, with the sides set to meet in the final if they both continue to win their games. With England or Italy up next Germany will be supremely confident of reaching the last game of the tournament, as their momentum shows no sign of being blunted.

Low’s decision to take Gomez, Muller and Podolski out of his starting XI was certainly a surprise, but also showed the strength in depth in this German squad. To swap your attacking trident and still bag four goals against a defensively-stubborn Greek side shows that the Germans have a clinical edge, and will be able to count on able back-ups if injury or suspension takes its toll in the latter stages.

The core of the side remains as ominous as ever though. Neuer is goals demands respect with confident and dominant showings, whilst in Mats Hummels the side have a new central defensive hero, as the Borussia Dortmund man continues to grow in stature as the tournament rolls on. In midfield Bastian Schweinsteiger controls the tempo of the game and drives the side’s possession play, whilst Ozil has the guile, creativity and movement to cause problems for any defence in world football.

To play against Germany and avoid defeat, possession is the name of the game. With the quality in their attacking ranks it is only a matter of time before an opportunity is taken. With two defensive teams in the form of Italy and England playing it out to become the Germans’ next opponent, the victor will need to change their style to stand a chance. There usual ploy of absorbing pressure and hitting on the counter-attack will not work against a thorough and clinical Germany, who look for all money to be preparing to lift their first international trophy since Euro 96.

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Mario eyeing winning goal

The Guardian state that Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli will look to be in the limelight once more in Italy’s quarter-final against England, and would love to grab the winner against the country he plays his club football in.

Spain and France absorb criticism

As Spain and France prepare to go head-to-head in the third quarter-final on Saturday, both sides are facing criticism for the manner of their play ahead of the game.

Postiga to miss semi-final

Portugal boss Paulo Bento has a selection decision to make after it was revealed that first-choice forward Helder Postiga will miss the Iberian nation’s next match due to injury.

Come back tomorrow for all the reaction from the match-up between Spain and France, whilst the build-up to England’s crucial game against Italy starts to accelerate.