Greece are dangerous opponents, says German coach Jaochim Löw
In beating Denmark 2-1, the German national team became the first from the country ever to win all three group stage games at a European Championship.
Next up in the quarter-finals are Greece and the head coach of die Nationalmannschaft, Joachim Löw, is not making the mistake of underestimating the putative underdogs, as he explained in interview.
Question: Joachim Löw, three wins in three games - how do you rate the group phase performance of your team?
Joachim Löw: We've taken nine points from a tough group, against top-class opposition. All-in-all, that's a fine achievement. But we can, must and fully intend to improve further. This is just a stage on the way to our final target.
Question: The impression after the win against Denmark was one of rather muted celebrations on the part of both yourself and the team. Was that down to the fact that a weight has fallen from everyone's shoulders?
Löw: We were happy enough, even if that perhaps didn't come across fully. The pressure doesn't necessarily ease off at any stage of a tournament like this. It was the first defining game of the competition for us, which certainly played a role.
Question: Despite the result, all that glistered wasn't exactly gold against the Danes either. What were the reasons for that?
Löw: It was a difficult game for us, because it was one we could hardly win in a way. We passed up the chances that would have wrapped things up by half time, not having the killer instinct in three or four situations that would have put us 3-0, 4-0 in front. Then Denmark pull level out of the blue from a set piece, and all of a sudden other factors come into it. You've got the possibility of being eliminated on six points in the back of your head.
Question: Germany are up against Greece in the quarter-finals. Isn't that as good as a ticket into the last four?
Löw: Not as far as I'm concerned. The quarter-final will be a different game altogether, even if the Greeks will be deploying a similar style to Denmark. Greece are dangerous opponents, they'll try to play deep and take the pace out of the game. They're masters of efficiency - three chances so far in the tournament and they've taken the lot, that says it all. We know from the past that they can defend incredibly well - it's like chipping away at granite.
Question: Isn't it a good omen that Germany have never lost in eight meetings with Greece?
Löw: I never even knew that. All I was thinking was that I've never been up against them as a coach, and it's about time. I've got a few very good friends from Greece.
Question: What areas do your team need to improve in against Greece in light of the three group stage matches?
Löw: We need to be a tad better up front, above all when it comes to taking our chances. Our movement was pretty good, but we have to make sure the ball finds its target as well. On top of that, we sometimes left too much of a hole in midfield and at the back, that's something we need to address. We've got until Friday now, when we'll be playing pretty much on our doorstep in Gdansk. So as we don't have to travel anywhere, we'll be able to prepare with a bit more focus.
Question: Were you satisfied with Lars Bender's performance on his starting debut?
Löw: Lars Bender has all the qualities it takes to be a full back. Both the Benders are winners, incredibly hungry and very positive players. Lars fitted in well, there was no fear or exaggerated respect for the opposition, even though he was operating in a completely unaccustomed role. When I told him he was playing, he just said - I'm glad. That sums him up.
Question: Will Jerome Boateng nonetheless take up his place at the back again against Greece, following his suspension?
Löw: I'll be thinking the whole situation over again at leisure and don't want to set out my stall too early. Boateng performed well in the first two games.