Miroslav Klose could be set for his first start of Euro 2012 in the quarterfinal with Greece.
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Preview: Currently enjoying a national-record 14-game winning streak, undefeated in eight previous matches with their quarterfinal opponents and considered by many to be favorites for the competition. Those are the bare facts that would seem to point toward an inevitable victory for Germany in Friday's last eight matchup.
But it is also the kind of statistics that put Greece in a position they have come to relish: unheralded underdogs.
The reputation was earned as Greece stunned the continent by taking the trophy at Euro 2004, but victory against Germany will perhaps be every bit as meaningful as what was achieved eight years ago. Not only is this side playing for personal glory, but there is also a huge incentive to lift the mood of a nation in turmoil. And for many Greeks, Germany is a symbol of their personal hardship having been the driving force behind the austerity measures implemented on Greece as a condition for bailouts.
Of course those involved will try to deflect attention away from the politics and onto the pitch, but there can be little doubt that Greece will be playing with even more passion, a quality that was at the heart of their upset victory over Russia.
The question is will that be enough against a Germany side seemingly coming in to its peak. Joachim Low's side has not yet hit the heights in Poland and the Ukraine with three performances that have been efficient rather than spectacular.
But with three wins out of three Low will argue that his squad has done more than enough thus far. Rarely does a side sparkle throughout a tournament and there is an art to peaking when it matters most. Germany certainly has that look about them.
The Germans left it a little too close for comfort in their final group game against Denmark, however, with the Danes being denied a clear penalty that would have left Germany staring down the barrel of elimination.
It was the type of defensive lapse that will need to be ironed out when Germany come up against the very best. Against Greee, the Nationalmannschaft's defense will be back at full strength, with Jerome Boateng returning from suspension. For the first time, though Low could be set to make significant changes to his lineup. Press reports in Germany have suggested that Miroslav Klose will replace Mario Gomez up front, while Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle are set to come in for Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski.
Those are the type of options that Greece would love to have tat their disposal. The big question for Santos is how to replace the team's suspended captain and playmaker Giorgos Karagounis.
D: Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm
M: Khedira, Schweinsteiger
Reus, Ozil, Schurrle
D: Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas
M: Makos, Katsouranis, Maniakis
F: Salpingidis, Gekas, Samaras
Prediction: Under Fernando Santos, Greece has moved away from the ultra-defensive side that triumphed under Otto Rehhagel. However, there is little doubt that Greece will concede a lot of ground and will have to put in a phenomenal defensive performance.
The new partnership of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and 20-year-old Kyriakos Papadopoulos looked impressive against Russia and Georgios Tzavellas gave a better account of himself at left-back than Jose Holebas had done in the first two matches.
Going forward, though ,the absence of Karagounis is a huge blow. Greece's record appearance holder is a vital source of creativity in the midfield and his delivery from set-pieces has also proved crucial to Greek success through the years.
A fired-up Greece side should at least start strong, in comparison to their first two games of the competition. The possibility that Santos' men could frustrate Germany for long periods is certainly a possibility.
The quality in the German lineup, though, even if Low does make changes, should mean it is just a matter of time before the breakthrough arrives. Germany can score in so many ways, through intricate buildup or more direct balls into the box, and should put an end to Greece's credible performance at this competition.
Germany 2-0 Greece
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