In a game they were expected to win, tournament favourites Germany didn't disappoint in their quarterfinal match with Greece. Goals from Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus saw the Germans run out 4-2 victors – a scoreline that doesn't accurately reflect the Germans' dominance.
With over 80 percent of the possession in the opening 45 minutes, Germany could have gone into the halftime break leading by three or four goals. That they had only Lahm's 39th minute strike to their credit was more down to their wastefulness in front of goal than it was to their inability to create chances.
Head coach Joachim Löw rang the changes before the game, leaving out top scorer Mario Gomez, along with midfielders Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller. They were replaced in the starting lineup by Miroslav Klose, Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus – a move that drew criticism from some quarters.
It was suggested that Löw was being disrespectful to his opponent by resting some of his preferred starting eleven. In reality, the decision was a tactical one, as Löw used his squad to its fullest extent in order to avoid being predictable and gain an advantage over Greece. It was a decision that proved to be the correct one.
Both Klose and Reus found the back of the net and put in positive performances, while Schürrle started brightly before fading in the second half. At just 23 and 21 respectively, both Reus and Schürrle have bright futures for the German team, but may need to bide their time given the options that Löw has in his squad.
The dilemma that Löw is now faced with is who to select in his starting lineup for the semifinal. Does he bring back Gomez for Klose? Does he opt for a rested Podolski over Schürrle on the left, or does he bring back Müller ahead of Reus on the right? They are all difficult decisions to make, but this is the ideal situation for any coach – a variety of player combinations that can all be equally effective.
Despite the dominant display from the Germans against Greece, there was one thing that could cause Löw some concern moving forward.
After completely dominating the opening 45 minutes, Germany were sloppy to start the second half, conceding possession in midfield when under little pressure. Schürrle's miscue led to Greece's equalizer, as Dimitris Salpingidis raced down the right and crossed for Georgios Samaras, who bundled the ball past Manuel Neuer in the German goal.
It was almost as if Germany felt they only needed to see out the final 45 minutes and they would cruise to a comfortable victory. Fortunately, the Greece goal snapped the Germans back to life, and they went on to regain the lead and their control of the match just six minutes later.
From there on in, the Germans were in complete control of the game. Mesut Özil was dominant in the attacking midfield role, connecting on 109 of 117 passes, with 66 of 73 coming in the attacking third of the field. With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira operating just behind as the midfield anchors, Özil had the freedom to roam wherever he needed to in order to impact the game. When Özil drifted wide, either Schweinsteiger or Khedira was able to push forward.
The movement and exchange between these three is the key to making Germany tick. With either England or Italy up next in the semifinals, it will take a formidable performance in midfield to stop Germany from marching all the way to the final.