Germany warmed up for a potential semi-final clash with England by insisting they have improved since the World Cup.
Real Madrid star Sami Khedira says the tournament joint favourites are a stronger outfit than the one that beat England 4-1 in the last 16 in South Africa.
The Germans, Group B winners with the maximum nine points, play Greece in Gdansk tomorrow night.
Further success and Joachim Loew’s team will lie in wait for either England or Italy.
That has boosted confidence, although coach Loew and his players still believe they have to iron out a few problems before they peak.
Despite England being outplayed by the effervescent Germans at the World Cup, Khedira, 25, said: “We have progressed. As a team we are much better prepared than 2010.
“We have more class, a more calm, calculated style. Look at our group stage – we had Portugal, the Dutch and Denmark – and anyone who tops that group deserves it. It was a fantastic achievement.
“The next step is to shed the frivolous aspects of our play. In South Africa we were cheeky, fresh and pert, and at times we have also to show that aspect of our game too.
“We enter the field fairly well informed about our opponents and their style and formations.
“You probably think differently – but we are focusing on Greece.
“It is clear that surprises can be just around the corner, so we are well advised not to think one step ahead. That is a major risk.
“We survived the group, a good thing.
“If we really do make the semis then the teams we could meet deserve to be there and won’t be any weaker than Spain, not by a long shot.”
Midfielder Khedira reckons “patience first and foremost” is the key against Greece, a counter-attacking team who qualified despite just having a handful of attempts at goal.
He added: “But the Greeks also showed lots of movement with, and off, the ball. If we stand there statically it will be difficult.
“I do not believe their strength is attacking play. They are solid tactically and very well educated and trained in defence. It is very difficult to break this bastion. The danger is they are fantastic on the counter-attack.
“They have only had three, four or five chances and have always scored when they come.
“For them, a 1-0 is a good result and they grind it out. We have to let them run, make them tired and let them make mistakes.
“We have good solutions and now we have got to implement them.”
Germany are being boosted by a personal visit by the country’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose presence may rile many Greek followers given their economic problems.
But the German side appear to love their leader.
Khedira said: “She is one of our supporters and we are her supporters.
“She seems to be a charming, open, warm-hearted person who loves football – and has the knack of giving people a good feeling.
“Her support shows we are one country all together rowing in the same direction.”
We enjoin our readers to send their stories/articles/reports, including pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Africa News