Gdansk: A day before their European Championship quarter-final against Greece, the one thing on German minds was patience. Both coach Joachim Loew and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believe composure will be the key to success. The Germans expect Greece to erect a defensive wall in front of its goal. Breaking it down will need a lot of hard work, while taking care not to be exposed to counterattacks.
Loew says one thing his players won't do is underestimate Greece, the surprise winner of Euro 2004. While Friday's match in Gdansk has also attracted attention because of its political backdrop, Loew stuck to football matters.
The coach was happy to be spared the stress of traveling, since the Germans have been based outside Gdansk for the tournament.
"We are feeling good and looking forward to playing a 'home' game. We have a short way to the stadium," said Loew.
German chancellor Angela Merkel plans to attend the match and her presence could anger Greek fans. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has been a major contributor to international bailouts for Greece and was instrumental in demanding structural reforms and hugely unpopular spending cuts in return.
Loew said the team had no injuries and that midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger would play despite not training at full speed over the last two days because of an ankle injury. Right back Jerome Boateng is likely to return after serving a one-match suspension but Loew, as usual, would not disclose other details about his lineup.
"We create chances and we'll get them against Greece, but we'll have to run a lot," said Loew, whose team is seeking a record fourth title. "When you have 10 men behind the ball, it's going to be difficult to penetrate. We are going to be biting granite and we'll need patience."
Greece upset Russia 1-0 to advance to the quarter-finals. Loew said scoring an early goal would give his team some security.
"We'll a need a certain killer instinct," said Loew.
The Greeks have six players with Bundesliga experience and Neuer singled out Fanis Gekas as a dangerous striker with poaching skills.
"He's got a nose for being in the right place at the right time," said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Greece will be missing playmaker and captain Giorgos Karagounis through suspension.
"Whoever plays for him will be just as motivated, but his absence could hurt Greece," Loew said.