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Germany not taking Greece lightly

Joachim Löw accepts that Germany are favourites to reach the semis at Greece's expense but refuses to take lightly a side sourcing inspiration from the biggest EURO shock of all.

Germany not taking Greece lightly
Germany not taking Greece lightly ©UEFA.com

Germany coach Joachim Löw issued a strong warning to those who believe his side can already begin planning for the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finals: "Playing Greece will be akin to colliding with a rock."

The three-time European champions go into the tie at the Arena Gdansk on the back of a national-record 14-game winning run in competitive fixtures and, in eight previous meetings with Friday's opponents, have never lost. Yet one statistic weighs heavily in the other column: Greece triumphed at UEFA EURO 2004 when their ambitions were similarly dismissed.

"We are the favourites, that's logical and we can live with that," Löw said. "We also know that knockout games have their own character. Once the match starts, being expected to triumph counts for nothing. Greece are not the sort of team that gets ripped apart; we saw that against Russia when they upset the odds [winning 1-0]. You can never count them out."

Löw has made just one change to his starting lineup during a tournament which has so far brought wins against Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. With Jérôme Boateng available again after suspension and Bastian Schweinsteiger having shaken off an ankle complaint, the 52-year-old is not expected to radically vary his set-up for Greece, a team he describes as "dynamic, good defensively and dangerous on the counterattack".

"In a quarter-final you have to make a huge effort," added Löw. "We have so far shown we're fast, capable of creating problems for opponents and able to score good goals. If we run at them in the last third, look to play at a high tempo and display a killer instinct, we will be in a good position to beat them."

On their way to victory at UEFA EURO 2004, Greece defeated holders France at the quarter-final stage and their coach this time around, Fernando Santos, spelled out what his team need to do to match that achievement: "We must avoid all mistakes and be focused throughout. That is the only way we will be the team celebrating on the pitch afterwards."

Greece made errors in their opening game, but fought back from a man and a goal down to draw with Poland, then lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic before getting back on track with victory over Russia. On Friday they will be without suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis and full-back José Holebas but can take heart from the fact that the Czech loss is their only defeat in 13 games during this campaign.

A record as favourable as that makes their billing as David to Germany's Goliath seem somewhat overstated, but Santos is happy to go along with it. "David won that battle against an opponent who was never expected to lose so I'm OK with that," he said.

"It's true that in terms of stature and importance Germany are big and they always expect to get far in tournaments. However, we are not here on our holidays. The 2004 team was written off before that tournament and they are our source of inspiration now."

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