Germany may be the youngest team at Euro 2012, but coach Joachim Loew said his side matured by beating Denmark 2-1 to set up a quarterfinal date with “efficient” Greece.
“That was the first knockout game. We survived the group with nine points that is a strong performance. But we can still improve in the coming games,” said Loew.
“We also became more mature.” Germany are the youngest side in Poland and Ukraine with an average age of 24.98 years. And one of the young guns is Lars Bender, the 23-year-old midfielder, who replaced the suspended Jerome Boateng in the German backline and responded with his first international goal — and it being the game-winner in the 80th minute.
“The goal was the biggest gift for me,” said the Bayer Leverkusen youngster.
The other big winner from the Denmark game was Lukas Podolski, who not only scored his first goal of Euro 2012 but also did it while playing in his 100th match for the Germans and with his weaker right foot.
“It’s great when a goal like that happens in your 100th cap,” said Podolski.
After the German football federation DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach congratulated the team and Podolski on their flight back to their headquarters in Poland after the match, his teammates called for Podolski to say a few words. And the Arsenal-bound forward responded by saying: “Thank you everybody — let’s head to the final!”
The Germans are definitely the favourites on paper, as they have not lost in eight matches against the Greeks with five victories. But the last encounter dates back to the 2002 World Cup qualifier in Athens in March 2001.
But Loew also warned his players of Greece — especially the efficiency of the team that shocked the football world by winning the Euro 2004 title.
“The Greeks have had three goals chances thus far in the tournament and scored three goals. They are the champions of efficiency,” said Loew.
“From previous tournaments its well known that they defend incredibly well.”
Keywords: Euro 2012