After starting the tournament as one of the favorites, Germany beat Poland with competence, played miserably against Croatia, then ground out the necessary result against Austria. Few gave the
Germans a chance against in-form Portugal, but "this was a victory for size, power and some smart strategy," writes Duncan Castles.
The Portuguese "succumbed to a German team that
worked out their weaknesses and exploited them ruthlessly." He gives credit to German coach Joachim Loew "for altering a long-established formation to stymie his opponents." But Castles laments
that "a tournament replete with delicate, inventive football has lost its cleverest exponents of that art."
Loew took out a forward and added an extra midfielder to control
Cristiano Ronaldo, while crowding the midfield whenever Portugal had possession. When the Portuguese reacted by pushing more men forward, they laid themselves open to German counterattacks. Not only
that, the Germans had spent some time working on their set pieces, and what turned out to be the winning goal, "with the aid of a cheeky shove to Ferreira's back," was executed by Michael Ballack
from a dead ball situation. Germany meets the winner of Friday's Turkey-Croatia quarter-final on June 25.
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