Ultimate grudge match on cards
Of all the quarter-final clashes at Euro 2012, Germany versus Greece will be the most closely watched, with the tie being seen through the prism of the sovereign debt crisis threatening the eurozone. Ton up | Match Statssports Updated: Jun 19, 2012 01:43 IST
Of all the quarter-final clashes at Euro 2012, Germany versus Greece will be the most closely watched, with the tie being seen through the prism of the sovereign debt crisis threatening the eurozone.
The irony of a potential last-eight meeting with Germany after Greece’s surprise win over Russia in Warsaw on Saturday was not been lost on the Greeks, with many sensing an opportunity for revenge. "Bring us Merkel," said Greek newspaper Goal News on Sunday. "You will never get Greece out of the Euro. Europe once again delirious about bankrupted Greece."
German chancellor Angela Merkel has provoked anger in Greece for leading the calls on Athens to impose tough austerity measures in return for financial assistance to bring down debt.
Greece players, too, are aware that a good run in the competition in Poland and Ukraine will help alleviate some of their compatriots’ current woes. In economic terms, Germany and Greece are poles apart. One is Europe’s leading economy with considerable global clout while the other is in its fifth year of recession and crippled by political and financial uncertainty.
In football, there are some parallels. The celebrated Mannschaft have the European championships’ best record, having lifted the trophy and been runners-up three times each.
Greece, however, have only qualified for the finals four times, although they have won it once.
Germany have won the World Cup no fewer than three times and been runners-up on four occasions, with four third-place finishes. Their 12 top-four finishes outshines even that of five-times winners Brazil.
Greece for its part only qualified for their first finals in 1994 and made their second appearance two years ago but on both occasions crashed out at the group stage.
German league clubs have won the old European Cup and Champions League six times and been runners-up on nine occasions. To date, Panathinaikos are the only Greek team to have reached a final in 1971.
Germany’s Bundesliga, meanwhile, is on an increasingly sound financial footing. Revenue grew by five percent in the 2010-11 season to ¤1.7 billion (£1.4 billion, $2.1 billion) — second only to the English Premier League. In addition, average attendances of 42,100 at German grounds in the season before last were the best in Europe, the report said.
Greek domestic football — effectively an annual three-way battle between Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens — has in contrast been hit in recent years by high-profile match-fixing claims, dwindling crowds as well as fan violence.