Greece needs 'minor miracle' against Germany
Gdansk, Poland (Sports Network) - Greece forward Dimitris Salpingidis admitted his team needed a "minor miracle" to defeat Germany on Friday in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals at Arena Gdansk.
Germany was perfect in the "Group of Death" to cement its status as one of the tournament favorites, while Greece narrowly escaped the weakest group in Euros with just a single win.
Although the Greeks have just two wins in 12 group matches all-time at Euros - it won the tournament in 2004 after just a single win in group play.
"Germany are the favorites, we are the underdogs, but think about it: we will not play against the Germans ten times to see who wins the most," Salpingidis said.
"It's one match and we will fight to the end."
Greece's challenge is magnified by the loss of captain Giorgos Karagounis and defender Jose Holebas due to suspension against Germany. Greece previously had defender Avraam Papadopoulos ruled out after he suffered an ACL tear.
The Greeks also made a change in goal during the tournament as Kostas Chalkias was lost to injury in their second game, and former No. 1 Michalis Sifakis has stepped back into the starting role.
Sifakis believed it was key for Greece to believe in its ability as a team.
"It's the secret for the big successes of this team," Sifakis said. "If you go back to 2004, you can't possibly remember a single player standing out.
"All players who participated fought like a single man and we managed to win."
Sifakis is the only goalkeeper yet to allow a goal in the tournament as Greece on occasion proved why it allowed just five goals in 10 qualifying games. The Greeks allowed three in group play, and enter the knockout stage off a 1-0 win over Russia.
"Greece have a very, very strong side which we must not underestimate," German midfielder Sami Khedira said. "Patience will be needed, but it is very, very important to have lots of movement within our game.
"If we stay static, it will be very, very difficult. It will be difficult to break through, but I think we have some very good tools to do so."
Germany was efficient in Group B, beating Portugal, 1-0, the Netherlands, 2-1, and Denmark, 2-1. It was the first time in their history the Germans won all three group matches.
Unlike Greece manager Fernando Santos, who has been forced into major changes, Germany coach Joachim Loew will have just one decision to make for Friday.
Germany used the same team for its first two matches, but had to replace right back Jerome Boateng due to suspension in the third match against Denmark. Lars Bender stepped in and scored the winning goal.
Boateng seems likely to slot back into defense against Greece, which will be a dangerous opponent, according to Loew.
"They are very dangerous in attack and strong in defense," Loew said.
Although Greece may not be the most enjoyable team to watch, it makes the most of opportunities and frustrates opponents defensively. Germany will try to get past the defense and show the form it displayed at the 2010 World Cup.
Germany scored four goals in wins of Australia, Argentina and England, but it also managed just a 1-0 win over Ghana and was shutout in 1-0 losses to Serbia and Spain.
"The teams are on a very equal level here," said German winger Thomas Muller, who won the Golden Boot at the World Cup. "When I think back to the World Cup, aside from the Australia match (a 4-0 win), we were hardly playing champagne football then either."
But with almost the same exact team - the youngest based on average age in the Euro finals - now two years older, Greece will need a miracle to surprise the confident Germans.