Germany v Greece, 19:45
If you wanted to bet on one of the quarter-finals this is most likely the one you’d pick for a safe result. Greece may be a recent winner of this competition, but Germany are pretty much favourites to win Euro 2012 after picking up maximum points in their group, and the draw has been kind to them. Given that Germany could have faced Russia or the Czech Republic they will be secretly pleased to be playing Greece, without shirking one minute of preparation, I’m sure.
Many of the papers have been keen to make Eurozone-based puns relating to bail-outs, and other such financial chicanery but I don’t really know a lot about that, so I’ll stick to the players. Mario Gomez has been a touch hit-and-miss, scoring well one moment and looking like a German Cameron Jerome the next, but this is the time big players deliver, and he’ll want to prove he can do so. Lahm and Schweinsteiger are used to this sort of level, and the squad seems to be growing into its ability at last.
Greece will take a lot of heart from their win over Russia, and in a tournament like this a single goal from a set-piece can easily win a match. I’ve no doubt the Greek management will have seen enough in the German defence to make them think they can get a goal if they try hard, but for that sort of plan to be effective the Greece defence and midfield will have to concentrate for ninety minutes, and the strikers take any sniff of a chance that could come their way.
Greece captain Giorgios Karagounis is banned after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against Russia, and could be replaced by Grigoris Makos or Giorgos Fotakis. Germany right-back Jerome Boateng is available after missing the win against Denmark through suspension, but having deputised and scored, Lars Bender will hope to keep his place at Boateng’s expense.
Germany are 4/11 favourites with the Greeks around and about 10/1 in most places. Ladbrokes offer 13/2 on a 1-0 German win, and that result seems to be in fashion for nervous sides struggling to make the next stage.