Blues have nothing to lose against Germany
LEGIONOWO – Greece has achieved its main goal at Euro 2012 by getting past the group stage and beating Germany in a last-eight clash that has turned minds to the eurozone crisis would simply be a huge bonus, defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos said on Tuesday.
The Greeks have no injury problems ahead of Friday’s quarterfinal, aside from Papadopoulos’s namesake Avraam, who has had surgery on a knee injury sustained in the tournament opener against Poland.
They will be without talismanic playmaker Giorgos Karagounis, who scored the only goal in a shock 1-0 win over Russia but is suspended and may be replaced by Grigoris Makos in midfield.
“Advancing to the quarterfinals was our first target in these games,» Kyriakos Papadopoulos told a news conference at the team’s base outside Warsaw.
“From now on there is nothing for us to lose. Whatever we achieve from here is going to be huge for us and we will try very hard to stay in the tournament.”
Papadopoulos, who plays for Germany’s Schalke 04, said it was a plus for the Greeks that many of the squad play their club football in the Bundesliga.
“Of course we’re going to study a lot of Germany with our coach and his team but I’m not going to discuss tactics here,» he said, singling out Germany striker Mario Gomez as an excellent player.
“Its important that a lot of the Greek players have played in the Bundesliga. That gives us an advantage because we already know how they play.”
Teammate Giorgos Samaras, who plays for Scottish champion Celtic, laid into the international media in English for making too much of the politics of the clash with Germany, a country hated by many Greeks for the imposition of crippling fiscal targets for its international bailout.
“You cannot compare [soccer] to politics. Its a bad thing for you to start to make stories and compared football and sports with politics,» he said. «It’s just a game. We’re going to play and enjoy it because we love it, nothing else.”
While the Greeks are increasingly angry at this line of questioning, however, they have also consistently stressed how important success at the tournament is for a nation bowing under the weight of an economic collapse.
“We don’t play for ourselves, we don’t play for the team, we play for 11 million people back in Greece who are waiting for a smile, for a reason to get out in the street and celebrate,» Samaras said.
“I think we gave them that against Russia. Now we are in the last eight nations in Europe. We really don’t care who we play from now on.”