Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany in action during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Germany at Arena Lviv in L'viv, Ukraine. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Greece faced an über-talented France team in the Euro 2004 quarterfinals and defeated them en route to a tournament win. Surely, they can't repeat the feat against Germany in 2012. Can they? Follow @SBNationSoccer
A Greece team of whom no one expected very much entered the Euro 2004 quarterfinals as massive underdogs. They were up against France, winners of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. They flamed out of the 2002 World Cup, but were without a number of key players in that competition, and appeared to bounce back to their old form in the group stages of Euro 2004.
France started Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Robert Pirès, David Trezeguet and Claude Makélelé in that game, among other world-class players. Patrick Vieira was also in that squad, but didn't play against Greece. The Greeks pulled off a 1-0 upset, knocking off one of the two best teams in the tournament. Sound familiar?
Germany hasn't won any major titles recently and they didn't flame out of the last World Cup, but they are a team stacked with top-notch players in their primes, and they're expected to roll over a very defensive Greece team that was far from impressive en route to the quarterfinals.
There are, however, plenty of key differences between the 2004 Greece team and this team that make an upset seem a much less likely proposition this time around. The biggest difference is probably that, due to suspension, Giorgos Karagounis won't be playing in this match, as he did against France in 2004. He's been arguably the Greeks' best player thus far, and he scored the game-winner against Russia in their last group-stage game.
He's likely to be replaced by Grigoris Makos, a competent central midfielder who isn't anywhere near as good at passing or getting forward as Karagounis. Manager Fernando Santos could opt for a slightly more attacking option in his PAOK teammate Giorgos Fotakis -- or, if he's feeling really ambitious, Sotiris Ninis -- but he's likely to play Makos in what basically amounts to a trivot while playing for a 0-0 draw.
The Germans have the quality to break down a tight midfield and a team of 10 men behind the ball, but they haven't faced it yet in this tournament. Denmark and Portugal played conservatively against Germany and had 10 men behind the ball at points, but they weren't anywhere near as defensive as Greece is expected to be on Friday.
Mesut Özil is the Germans' best creative outlet, but he plays high enough up the pitch that he's likely to be hounded every time he has the ball. The Greeks are going to sit a little bit further off Bastian Schweinsteiger, and his team might require him to make some excellent passes from deep to break down the Greek defense. He was stellar in each of Germany's last two games after a poor outing against Portugal, and will be leaned on heavily.
Joachim Löw just has one major selection dilemma, at right back. Lars Bender put in a great performance against Denmark in relief of the suspended Jerome Boateng and could potentially keep his place, though Boateng was very good in his first two games, even though he picked up back-to-back yellow cards. The other 10 starters will almost certainly remain unchanged, though there's plenty of talent on the bench if Löw feels Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller haven't been good enough thus far.
Projected Germany Lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng; Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Lukas Podolski, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller; Mario Gomez
Greece Lineup (4-3-3): Michail Sifakis; Giorgos Tzavellas, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis; Kostas Katsouranis, Grigoris Makos, Giannis Maniatis; Georgios Samaras, Theofanis Gekas, Dimitris Salpigidis.
Monty the Psychic Metal Disk says: Greece does their thing. It works for the most part. On one Germany move, it doesn't. 1-0 to Die Mannschaft.
Game Date/Time: Friday, June 22, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: PGE Arena, Gdansk, Poland
TV: ESPN (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), ITV 1 (U.K.), TSN (Canada)
We'll have live coverage of the game in our Germany vs. Greece, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.