For three matches, pundits and fans had been calling on Bundestrainer Joachim Löw to show more boldness in his team selection. With the squad bursting at the seams with up-and-coming talent, all wanted to see Löw include the likes of Marco Reus, André Schürrle or Mario Götze.
It was no surprise their wishes went unanswered. For years, this Bundestrainer has been rather conservative in his team selection, keeping faith with those who have brought success in the past – and why shouldn't he? His choices had earned Germany nine points in the group stage, the only team to do so, and they did so in arguably the most difficult section.
So it was a big surprise to everyone when news of the starting XI for the quarter-final against Greece began to seep out around Friday lunchtime. Reus, Schürrle and Miroslav Klose in; Thomas Müller, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez out? Some (me included) had a hard time believing it until we saw the lineups in black and white in the stadium. Löw had dropped the three players who had scored Germany's five goals at the tournament up till then.
The criticism – so much is for sure – would have been huge had it gone wrong. Among the loudest would have been many of those who had called for changes before the match. In the end Löw's actions paid off. Handsomely.
Schürrle, Reus and Klose added a dimension to Germany's game the other three attackers probably couldn't. Reus especially was an asset, which he nicely underlined with a cracking goal at the end. Schürrle tried hard with several attempts on goal and worked a lot, but his loss of the ball resulted in Greece's surprise equaliser. Klose's ideas were as good as always, but for a long time it seemed like he lacked the form to make them happen. In the final eight minutes, we even got to see Götze in his first tournament appearance, but he didn't get the chance to make an impact in a game that was already over by that stage.
The Greece game has proved a couple of important points for Germany. The depth in this squad, which everyone has talked about before, is really there and can be made to work in the team's favour. And the fact that Löw has so bravely changed his lineup will keep every player on his toes.
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