As Joachim Löw dwelled on a win that hinted at Germany's growing maturity, Denmark's Morten Olsen was left with "ifs and buts" after a campaign that almost delivered so much.
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Joachim Löw said Germany's hard-fought victory over Denmark on Sunday was a sign of his side's growing maturity, explaining that it was a game which "three or four years ago, we wouldn't have won". Morten Olsen was left mulling over the "ifs and buts" after the width of the post denied them the third goal of the evening before Lars Bender's late winner.
Morten Olsen, Denmark coach
If you need a draw, you have to defend well and we did aside from the first goal. We got an equaliser and had a chance in the second half too. We broke their triangular passes in midfield a bit as the game went on. If you are to beat teams like that you need luck, but Jakob Poulsen hit the post in the second half. A 1-1 draw would have been a good result. If you gamble too much against a team like this – dynamic, fast – then they punish you. You keep it 1-1 and then you need a bit of luck – if Poulsen's shot had gone inside the post it would have been different.
It's all ifs and buts – with the Portugal game too – but this team has a future, no doubt about it. We gave the ball away too much and we were tired. Compliments to the players as they've had a great tournament – it's just an issue of a few details. You look at the Germany team and their players are in the Champions League almost the whole year round but I think some of the players waved the flag today and proved they can rub shoulders with the best. We were up against a fantastic team; for a neutral, it must be a pleasure to watch a team like that.
Joachim Löw, Germany coach
The match was very difficult, as expected. In the first half, we had an opportunity to open up a good lead; we missed three or four chances to make it 2-0 or 3-0. Then, from a standard set piece, Denmark levelled. After that, it became harder. In the second half, we controlled the match, looked after the ball and played with real maturity. Three or four years ago, we wouldn't have won this. But on 60, 70 minutes, all those technical players we have who can take control of the ball stepped up.
Denmark play with real calmness – they play like they don't care about winning, sitting back, and then they hit you on the break. They pass the ball back and forth. I never got the feeling they wanted to win; I felt they were happy to keep it level and hope to get a set piece and score from that.
While I was aware of what could happen, I always felt we would get the second goal. Today was the first decisive game of the tournament, but we did the job and qualified with nine points – a great performance, even if there's still room for improvement. In midfield and defence, we maybe allowed too much space; we could have closed them down much earlier to avoid allowing Denmark to take the pace out of the game. Greece will be the same, so we need to tighten up.
I've never played Greece and now it's time. No one thought they would make it as Russia had been so strong. I think they've had three or four chances at this tournament and scored three goals; they're masters of efficiency. They're hard and great at the back, strong in the tackle; it's like biting into a rock.