Greece may have won the European Championships more recently than their Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents Germany but in terms of history and organisation, the two teams are worlds apart.
In terms of honours, few sides in football can hold a candle to the Mannschaft, who have been European champions thrice and finished runners-up on the same number of occasions. On the biggest stage, Germany have been world champions thrice and have the best record in World Cup history.
That compares to a solitary Euro 2004 win for Greece and only two appearances in the World Cup finals.The size of their trophy cabinets is also a talking point. Domestically, German clubs have won the old European Cup and now Champions League six times and been runners-up on nine occasions, compared to just a single finals appearance for a Greek team and no victory.
The Bundesliga is also increasingly seen as a model of sound business practice. According to a German football league (DFL) report on the 2010-11 season, overall revenues increased for the seventh straight year to a record ¤1.94 billion — a 9.7 percent increase year-on-year.
In recession-hit Greece, the economic crisis has inevitably hit the domestic leagues, exacerbating wider problems with below-par playing standards, hooliganism and match-fixing allegations. Teams in the top tier Super League share broadcasting rights totalling ¤44.35 million but the ¤22.5 million in sponsorship from state-owned betting firm OPAP the season before last was slashed to 8.5 million euros last season.
The Professional Football Players’ Association in Greece says the average Super League player earns ¤10,000 a month, with the lowest at ¤840.
Cash-strapped clubs and a struggling league are also labouring to fill seats at Super League games. With no end in sight to Greece’s debt crisis, there are fears that crowds could fall even further next year, as fans may struggle to afford tickets.