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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Euro 2012 Quarter Finals - Friday 22nd June

Germany are highly fancied for outright victory for Euro 2012 & were our pre-tournament picks for glory, they'll need to progress past Group A runners up Greece but if they can they'll be favourites to beat either Italy or England in the semi finals. Our preview & one solid bet for the game is below & we'll be hoping it can prove to be as successful as our Portugal picks in the first quarter final.

(Mesut Ozil & Bastian Schweinsteiger can provide the chances for Germany to prosper)

The second Quarter Final takes place at the PGE Arena, Gdansk with Germany playing Euro 2004 winners Greece. Germany came through the 'group of death' with a perfect record with nine points whilst Greece sprung a surprise beating Russia & claiming the runners-up spot in Group A. The German side picks itself apart from the right back spot where Joachim Low has the choice between Jerome Boateng & Lars Bender. Despite a well taken strike by Bender against Denmark we would expect Low to return to the reliable Boateng for this one.

By winning all three of their group games; Germany have extended their winning streak to 14 competitive games & look the side to beat in Euro 2012, they have quality throughout & look to have the best balanced side in the tournament which doesn't seem to have an obvious weakness. Their defensive unit of keeper Manuel Neuer & back four of Phillip Lahm, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber & Jerome Boateng have faced moments of pressure, most notably the second half vs Holland, & have looked solid. Here they will face a lone striker so we can't envisage any real problems in open play but they will need to sharpen up when defending set pieces after conceding a sloppy set play goal against Denmark.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira & Mesut Ozil will have lots & lots of possession as the Greek side sit deep in their own half with numbers behind the ball. All three players have plenty of experience & won't panic in possession & will keep the ball moving between them until that perfect pass is available to the attacking trio Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller & spearhead Mario Gomez. Gomez already has three goals to his name & will be looking to push on in his personal pursuit of the golden boot but there's no value in him to score first or at anytime in the markets.

The Greeks have had a mixed tournament in terms of results & performances so far & it was a surprise they made it out of the group at the expense of Russia & co-hosts Poland. At the start of the tournament they tried to be more offensive which saw them only pick up one point from two games so when needing a result against Russia they reverted back to their ultra defensive philosophy & shape. They stole a goal on the stroke of half time through Giorgios Karagounis & spent the whole of the second half sitting deep & defending in numbers as they withstood all that was thrown at them with relative ease & not a little defensive confidence. Greece may find it harder to hold firm against the Germans though as they can break down sides with directness & power but also with the guile of Schweinsteiger & Ozil's passing.

(The suspension of Giorgios Karagounis is a major blow to Greek hopes)

The Greeks may have to alter their game plan slightly due to the suspension of inspirational captain Giorgios Karagounis after he was harshly booked for diving when actually cleared tripped by Russia's Sergei Ignashevich. The likelihood is that either Grigoris Makos or Giorgos Fotakis will replace him but neither player has the same influence or ability as Karagounis to fill the void. Not only is Karagounis the driving force behind the side but also delivers expertly into the penalty box, without his delivery you can't see a way of Greece breaching a solid German defence so take advantage of the evens on offer for Germany to win with a clean sheet.

Germany to win with a clean sheet at evens (Stan James)

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