Euro 2012: Germans looking good to end trophy drought

Germany look well-placed to end a 16 year trophy drought after becoming the only team to finish the group stage of Euro 2012 with three wins from their three games.

Updated: June 20, 2012 17:39 IST
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Warsaw, Poland: Germany look well-placed to end a 16 year trophy drought after becoming the only team to finish the group stage of Euro 2012 with three wins from their three games.

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The Germans, who also won all their qualifying games, have been threatening to fulfill the promise shown with two third places finishes at the past two World Cups and beaten finalists in Euro 2008.

With a vibrant attractive style of football and a largely young group of players - even those who have been around since the 2006 World Cup such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm are still in their 20's - coach Joachim Loew has the right to dream of emulating the German side that won Euro '96.

The Germans face Euro 2004 champions Greece in Friday's quarter-final and whilst the Greeks have shown terrific spirit to get this far, it is unlikely that the Germans will be as complacent or as wasteful as Russia were in their shock 1-0 defeat on Saturday.

However, the 52-year-old sees areas where his side needs to improve if they are not to end the tournament in anti-climactic fashion.

"We played some good attacking football in the first 20 minutes (the 2-1 defeat of Denmark), but we conceded the equaliser and we lacked urgency," said Loew after the Germans needed a late winner to beat Denmark.

"We passed the ball around without achieving the degree of pressure I wanted.

"We didn't really attack as well as we wanted to.

"We left a few enormous gaps in midfield for the opponent to exploit and I didn't like that. The solutions are just as clear as the challenges."

Loew also has reason to be optimistic because defending champions Spain have not yet hit their best form, indeed their smooth passing game has been as hypnotising as ever but the killer touch up front has been lacking save in the 4-0 hammering of a sorry Irish side.

"In football, nobody is invincible. This goes for everyone and nobody believes differently - not the French, the English, not even the Germans," said Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque.

"We can lose."

The Spanish will play a France side whose 23 game unbeaten record came to a shuddering halt on Tuesday beaten 2-0 by a Swedish side that had already been eliminated but who save for a couple of fatal losses of concentration looked as worthy as the French of reaching the last eight.

There could also be a repeat of the 'Chelsea experience' of last season whereby the English club totally disregarded in terms of a potential winner of the Champions League came through to beat Bayern Munich on their home turf to boot on penalties.

Two teams who resemble that scenario coming true are England and Portugal, both of whom arrived at the tournament with very low expectations - the former because of a chaotic run in where they lost a captain and a coach while the latter had a series of poor results.

The English, who are unbeaten in five games under Roy Hodgson the surprise choice to replace Fabio Capello, play an Italy side that also had an underwhelming preparation and which was overshadowed by another matchfixing scandal.

Hodgson, who edged out the 'peoples favourite' Harry Redknapp for the job, has brought a beguiling and refreshing modesty to the job but can take pride in what he has done so far, though, his ambitions go further than that.

"After Fabio Capello resigned people thought the team wouldn't have enough time with a new coach to prepare," Hodgson said. "Luckily we've proved that to be wrong. I'm pleased about that.

"Now we are getting good vibrations from those back home. It's not really a question of expectations. We want to keep going and try and enjoy this tournament for as long as we can."

The Portuguese - who play an equally resilient Czech side - have looked more and more impressive as the group stage progressed.

They showed character in bouncing back from letting a 2-0 lead slip against the Danes to score a late winner, and then an even better sign for them was the return to scoring form of their star player Cristiano Ronaldo with his double in the 2-1 win over the hapless Dutch.

Chelsea's Portuguese central midfielder Raul Meireles is one who is hoping that his club's success is to be replicated at the Euro.

"When we began this tournament, nobody mentioned Portugal as one of the favourites.

"The best example for me is what I experienced with Chelsea this year in the Champions League. If we manage to do the same it will the realisation of a dream."

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