By Nate Jacobson
A motto for most teams that start 3-0 in a major tournament is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That is not the case for Germany, who made three surprising changes ahead of their quarterfinal match against Greece.
The Group B winners started Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose in place of regulars Lukas Podolski, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez. The changes worked and Germany played their best match of Euro 2012 in a 4-2 victory.
The reason for the changes was to bring in a younger, faster team against the physical Greek defense. Also to have true outside midfielders that could stretch the field and provide width.
Klose is an experienced, Polish-born striker that has been scoring goals for Germany over the last ten years. His inclusion was a surprise because Gomez netted three goals in the group stage for Germany. However, Klose is a better aerial threat and seems to have better chemistry with the German midfielders.
Schurrle played on the left wing and was very active. The 21 year-old plays for Bayern Leverkusen. Reus started on the right wing before shifting to the left side where he scored Germany’s fourth goal. Reus just turned 23 and is set to join Borussia Dortmund next month.
Germany started the match strong. After numerous chances, left back Philipp Lahm took a chance from outside the box and his shot curved past Greece goalkeeper Michail Sifakis into the net.
Greece provided a very unexpected moment ten minutes into the second half when sneaky striker Dimitris Salpingidis delivered a perfect cross to Georgios Samaras, whose shot beat Manuel Neuer. Salpingidis was the inspiration for Greece’s comeback against Poland in the group stage.
It didn’t take Germany long to come back and the side really started to click. Sami Khedira scored off a volley in the 61st minute. Seven minutes later Klose scored one of his signature header goals to double the lead. Reus added the final goal with a shot that hit the crossbar and went in.
Coach Joachim Low and Germany continued show off young talent by inserting 20 year-old midfielder Mario Gotze into the match late. It’s a sign that Germany has a team that will compete in every major tournament for at least the next decade.
Greece added a goal for pride from a Salpingidis penalty kick. This was the first converted spot kick from 12 yards out at Euro 2012.
Germany moves on to play England or Italy on Thursday in the semifinals. Germany now can keep the same lineup or have well-rested players who started in the group matches. Low has the luxury to pick from many capable players and it would be tough to doubt his decisions after his bold choices against Greece.
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