Tony Soprano would have been impressed at the authenticity of Giorgios Karagounis’s impression of a delirious Mafioso.
Such was the pain etched on the face of the Greek captain when a second yellow card of the tournament was shown to him against Russia. The physical dramatics now overshadow the fact that the card wasn’t warranted. More so his leadership on the pitch will be missed in the Euro 2012 quarter-final against Germany.
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Karagounis’s fervent celebrations on qualifying from Group A were possibly the second warmest interaction to date at the finals between a team and its fans. It was a reflection of his comments leading into the tournament when he advised “It’s extra motivation for us to give joy to our compatriots and help them forget everyday problems for a short time at least.”
Even a glance at Thursday’s front page photograph and caption of The Guardian newspaper is testament to that. Lengthy ques from all walks of life waiting in line for soup and bread as the country slips further into a political abyss.
So much though has been made of the political tensions leading into this match, a political cartoon parody of David v Goliath proportions is immersing itself in the build up. But the real tension will be if a compact Greek midfield can stifle German fluidity, a trending tactic being used by the Germans opponents to date.
A 4-2-3-1 formation has proven successful so far for Joachim Loew’s side in their group matches but pockets of criticism still reign citing a lack of creativity, something the manager places more at the defensive minded feet of his opponents to date.
Mario Goetze has been touted as a more innovative option out wide for Germany but Lowe will most likely stick with Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller.
Lars Bender will be hoping to retain his place after impressing when covering for the suspended Jerome Boateng against Denmark. Bender did miss training earlier this week along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil but all will most likely be considered fit to play.
Greece have voiced no new fresh injury concerns. Grigoris Makos looks set to replace the Greek captain having been used in that position during training this week by Greek manager Fernando Santos. It was Makos who replaced Karagounis in the Russian victory and he is expected to continue.
The belief is that Greece will hold their solid shape and endeavour to unlock the German defence from a set piece. The other commonly held belief is that despite Greek doggedness Germany will have the ability to saturate their opponents with sufficient mastery to loosen enough space to ultimately win comfortably.
As difficult as it will be for the Greek fans to watch they might have to accept that their last moment s at Euro 2012 might well be looking up at the big screen in the PGE arena in Gdansk and see the attending Angela Merkel satisfied with taking something away from the Greeks.
Prediction: Germany 2 – 0 Greece.