Germany are through to the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2012 after beating Denmark 2-1 in Lviv and it seems coach Joachim Löw can simply do no wrong.
In the end, Germany lived up to their billing as favourites and defeated the Danes as well to win the so-called 'group of death' with maximum points and take Portugal with them into the next round. What are we left with for Germany after this group stage? First, there are the hard facts: nine points against three very, very difficult opponents to win this group is something you can hardly argue with. It did not always look very stylish, but the players have maintained several times in the past few days that Germany have evolved as a team, become more mature and are now able to control games better than before.
And you know what? In the end, they are right. In all three games, Löw's charges have controlled all three matches if not for the full 90 minutes, then for the majority of their games. Against Portugal, they controlled 75 minutes and the majority of possession; against the Netherlands, they had less possession but were almost always firmly in the driver's seat; and against Denmark, they were the superior side for 90 minutes and never looked like conceding from open play. Again, that's a pretty good record for that group and also bearing in mind that every other team at UEFA EURO 2012 has dropped points already. The new respect other teams have for Germany isn't making it easy to play stylishly. "Each opponent drops back extremely deep against us. We knew Denmark would do this. They didn't seem to care about the result," Löw said in Lviv.
The final and also reassuring realisation is that everything Löw touches seems to turn to gold. Before the first game, he decided to put his trust in Mario Gomez instead of the prolific Miroslav Klose and was rewarded with three Gomez goals. He replaced Per Mertesacker, who was lacking match practice, with Mats Hummels and the Borussia Dortmund defender has been a pillar of the defence ever since. Now, with Jérôme Boateng suspended, he fielded Lars Bender at right-back – a position he has not once played in this season in the Bundesliga – and Bender went on to score the winner against Denmark. "Lars Bender brings with him all the requirements to play full-back," Löw reasoned. With a coach with such a lucky touch, this really could be Germany's tournament.
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