Germany’s forward reshuffle works like a dream
Germany coach Joachim Loew’s bold gamble to reshuffle his entire
forward line against Greece paid off in a big way.
Two of the three new men up front scored in the Germans’ 4-2 win
in the European Championship quarterfinals and one of them, the
34-year-old Miroslav Klose, showed why he still remains a strong
rival to Mario Gomez as the team’s main striker.
Wingers Marco Reus and Andre Schuerrle tormented the Greek
defense with their darting runs on the flanks, with Reus especially
exposing the Greeks on the right before capping a bright display
with a spectacular fourth goal that flew in off the crossbar.
”Today was a day of change. I had the plan in my head for some
time,” Loew said. ”It’s not that I was unhappy with the previous
lineup, but I wanted some fresh wind. I wanted to make us more
What Loew was not happy about was that the news of the reshuffle
had been leaked to German newspapers in the afternoon, he said,
probably by players’ agents. The news clearly didn’t reach Greece’s
defenders, who were run ragged in Gdansk.
Loew started Gomez in the three group matches and the Bayern
Munich striker scored three goals to secure wins against Portugal
and the Netherlands.
However, he was ineffective against Denmark in the final group
game and gave way to Klose against the Greeks.
”Of course, I was stunned that I am not playing,” Gomez said.
”But the coach explained it and it’s not a problem. I am curious
what will happen in the next game.”
He isn’t the only one. Indeed, with six forwards at his
disposal, Loew’s attacking options for next Thursday’s semifinal
against either England or Italy are incredible.
Klose, who had come off the bench for Gomez in every group game,
was slow to find his form and fitness after playing little for
Lazio this season because of hamstring and back problems.
Loew kept stressing, however, that Klose was making excellent
progress and he demonstrated that by scoring Germany’s third goal
to break Greece’s spirit and raise his international total to 64 in
120 games – four goals short of Gerd Mueller’s national record.
”My family was in the stadium and I was very happy about it,”
said Klose, who was born in Poland.
”I was very pleased to be playing from the start. Our bench is
very, very strong. That’s a quality of our team.”
While Gomez is a classical penalty-box finisher, Klose is faster
and combines better with playmaker Mesut Oezil in the one-touch
passing game Loew likes his team to play.
Klose’s movement opened a lot of space for his teammates while
the addition of Reus, 23, and Schuerrle, 21, gave Germany more
speed that left the Greek defense out on its feet.
Showing Germany’s depth in attack, Loew left out Lukas Podolski,
who made his 100th appearance for Germany earlier in the tournament
– and scored one goal – and Thomas Mueller, who won the Golden Boot
at the 2010 World Cup.
And Reus took his opportunity, showing why he is considered one
of the brightest German prospects after scoring 18 goals in
Borussia Moenchengladbach’s march to a Champions League spot for
”First game, first goal, it was great. At 1-1, our control had
slipped. So it was great to come back. We kept attacking and the
goals finally came,” said Reus, who is moving from
Moenchengladbach to Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund next
Schuerrle had an outstanding season for Mainz before moving to
Bayer Leverkusen, where he stayed somewhat below expectations in
the first year there.
But his pace on the left was evident from the start against
Greece and he could threaten Podolski’s spot on the left.
With a record seventh semifinal appearance, the Germans are two
wins away from clinching a record fourth European title. It has now
won 15 consecutive competitions matches, another record.