Joachim Löw’s “cheeky” tinkering paid off as Germany cruised past Greece and into the Euro 2012 semi finals.

In stark contrast to the Eurozone, this was Germany progressing at the expense of the Greeks. The onlooking Angela Merkel must have revelled in the irony.

Löw made four changes to the starting XI that had defeated Denmark, with Jerome Boateng coming back in for Lars Bender, and Miroslav Klose, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle replacing Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski.

It worked a treat, as goals from Klose and Reus, as well as Sami Khedira and captain Philipp Lahm helped Germany to a 4-2 win.

Germany dominated the opening exchanges, with Greece happy to sit back and defend. After having an early goal disallowed, it was a question of when, not if they’d score.

And when Lahm but them ahead with an excellent long-range effort after 39 minutes, it was a question of how many.

However, the next goal did not go the way of the Germans. A swift counter-attacking move from Greece ended with Georgios Samaras prodding home.

It was to be a brief respite though, with Germany back ahead just six minutes later. A ball from Boateng fell to Khedira, who had been quietly impressive once again, and he smashed it home with aplomb.

The game was well and truly over when Klose added to his already astonishing international recording, heading home a Mesut Özil corner for his 64th goal for die Mannschaft.

There was still time for Reus to get on the scoresheet, hammering the ball past a less-than-impressive Michalis Sifakis in the Greek net.

When Jerome Boateng handled in the area in the 89th minute, Dimitris Salpingidis stroked home the resulting penalty. It mattered not.

This was Germany’s most impressive performance to date, albeit against the weakest side they’ve faced. They will play either Italy or England in the semi final.

Given bringing in Klose, Reus and Schurrle was supposedly ‘weakening’ the side, I don’t think they’ll be too bothered who they have to face, and you’d expect them to continue their march to a possible repeat of Euro 2008s final with Spain.

Speaking to Uefa.com after the game, ‘Jogi’ Löw had this to say: “First of all, I would like to say it was a fantastic performance from our team. For the fourth time in a row, we have qualified for the semi-final of a major tournament. Nobody thought we could have done that back in 2004. We have won 15 games in a row. We are the youngest team at this tournament and have great prospects for the future. I am proud of my players. We absolutely deserved to win tonight.

“Greece scored two goals out of one chance. We were good from the start but perhaps the only thing I can say is that we didn’t take advantage of our chances early on. I was irritated at that stage and my emotions are expressed at times like that.

“After three wins here, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my team in the slightest, but I had been planning on making the changes to the lineup for a while. I thought we had to be unpredictable against Greece, because I felt they would be ready for us. It is good to be cheeky like that from time to time. I thought the plan worked out quite well. Looking ahead, I think the four teams in the semi-finals will be serious contenders for the title. We know from now on games of this magnitude are decided by small details, and we can’t allow a single mistake.”

Germany are set to collide with a rock tonight in their quarter-final with Greece.

That is how Germany boss Joachim Löw sees things, ahead of a game for which his side are overwhelming favourites.

Speaking to Uefa.com, Löw said: “Playing Greece will be akin to colliding with a rock. We are the favourites, that’s logical and we can live with that. We also know that knockout games have their own character. Once the match starts, being expected to triumph counts for nothing. Greece are not the sort of team that gets ripped apart; we saw that against Russia when they upset the odds [winning 1-0]. You can never count them out.

“In a quarter-final you have to make a huge effort. We have so far shown we’re fast, capable of creating problems for opponents and able to score good goals. If we run at them in the last third, look to play at a high tempo and display a killer instinct, we will be in a good position to beat them.”

There are unlikely to be any major changes to the line-up, with Lars Bender replacing Jerome Boateng in the last game the only instance of it differing so far, and even that was enforced.

Boateng is now back from suspension, and despite Bender scoring in the last game he has been tipped to reclaim his spot.

Meanwhile, reports are now surfacing that Miroslav Klose is to get the nod ahead of Mario Gomez, on a purely tactical basis. It comes as a slight surprise, given Gomez has three goals to his name already, but then again Klose was favourite to start ahead of him before the tournament began.

Whatever the line-up, Germany’s squad is at full strength for this particular collision, and you’d expect them to come out the other side much the same way.

Likely German XI: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Müller, Özil, Podolski; Klose.

Prediction: Germany 2-0 Greece

Germany ensured that they survived the group of death, and progressed to the quarter finals, with a 2-1 victory over Denmark.

The win means Germany finish as group winners, while Denmark join Netherlands in making their exit from Euro 2012, although with more pride intact than their Dutch counterparts.

After putting an early chance over the bar, Thomas Müller turned provider for the first goal of the game.

He fizzed a ball into the feet of Mario Gomez, but the Bayern striker – who already has three goals this tournament – miscontrolled it. However, that was all part of the script as the ball fell to Lukas Podolski, who was left with an easy finish and a goal to celebrate his 100th international appearance. (He’s only 27!)

The Danes were back level soon after though, with Nicklas Bendter rising to head a deep corner back towards goal, and that was met by Michael Krohn-Dehli who was able to nod the ball past Manuel Neuer.

Germany continued to push for a winner in the second half, going close through Gomez. By this point I was struggling to keep up with who could go through and how, and was sick of hearing the word ‘permutations’, which I’m not sure anyone had ever used before last night.

It could have all been different for, well, everyone in the group (except Holland, who continued to be a bit rubbish) had the referee decided to award a penalty and send-off Holger Badstuber when he appeared to pull back Bendtner in the box.

He didn’t, however, and minutes later a quick break led to Mesut Özil playing in the impressive stand-in right back Lars Bender, who finished coolly to put the game – and the group – beyond any doubt.

Germany will now face Greece, a side Joachim Löw described as “very hard…it’s like you’re biting on a rock,” for a place in the semi final. You can make your own jokes about the Euro/Euros etc in the comments box.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “The match was very difficult, as expected. In the first half, we had an opportunity to open up a good lead; we missed three or four chances to make it 2-0 or 3-0. Then, from a standard set piece, Denmark levelled. After that, it became harder. In the second half, we controlled the match, looked after the ball and played with real maturity. Three or four years ago, we wouldn’t have won this. But on 60, 70 minutes, all those technical players we have who can take control of the ball stepped up.

“Denmark play with real calmness – they play like they don’t care about winning, sitting back, and then they hit you on the break. They pass the ball back and forth. I never got the feeling they wanted to win; I felt they were happy to keep it level and hope to get a set piece and score from that.

“While I was aware of what could happen, I always felt we would get the second goal. Today was the first decisive game of the tournament, but we did the job and qualified with nine points – a great performance, even if there’s still room for improvement. In midfield and defence, we maybe allowed too much space; we could have closed them down much earlier to avoid allowing Denmark to take the pace out of the game. Greece will be the same, so we need to tighten up.

“I’ve never played Greece and now it’s time. No one thought they would make it as Russia had been so strong. I think they’ve had three or four chances at this tournament and scored three goals; they’re masters of efficiency. They’re hard and great at the back, strong in the tackle; it’s like biting into a rock.”

Germany will not be taking anything for granted as they look to secure their passage to the last-16 of Euro 2012 in their game against Denmark tonight.

The Germans top the group after winning both of their opening games – the only team in the tournament to do so – yet qualification is still not guaranteed.

If Portugal beat Holland, and Denmark win 2-1, then Joachim Löw’s men will surprisingly exit the competition.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “We have not qualified yet. It will be a tight, difficult match as Denmark too have hopes of reaching the last eight. Those who saw Denmark as outsiders before the tournament were wrong; we always knew they would be a threat as they’re compact and dangerous on the break.

“We will not underestimate them and I’ll not be letting anyone have a day off. If I make changes it will be because it’s beneficial for the team.”

Germany will be forced into making at least one change from the side that has won both opening games, with full back Jerome Boeteng suspended. He is likely to be replaced by either Benedikt Howedes or Lars Bender, although there is also the possibility captain Philipp Lahm could switch to right back.

Other changes to the starting XI seem unlikely, given both their form and what is at stake, but there is always a chance Löw will decide to rest some of his key players, with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus all hungry for a chance.

Whatever the line-up, it would be a major upset for Germany to lose this one. While stranger things have happened, my money would be them not only qualifying, but doing so as group winners.

Prediction: Germany 2-1 Denmark

V-neck jumper, ‘moptop’ hairstyle, sipping coffee in the dugout. Joachim Löw is not your average national team manager.

While it’s true he may look like Germany’s answer to Professor Brian Cox, the above statement goes further than simply his haircut and penchant for quality knitwear.

Indeed, he may well be considered a professor in his own right, well known was he as the tactical brains in the dugout alongside Jurgen Klinsmann.

He has transformed a slow, ageing German side into one of the youngest, most dynamic teams in world football, capable of breaking on the counter-attack at an exhilarating pace and tearing through all before them like the Tasmanian Devil, leaving nothing but debris and tumbleweed in their wake.

That may be stretching into hyperbole, but the point remains: Germany are far better under Löw than they were without him. However, his path to the national team wasn’t as easy or obvious as one might think.

His playing career as a striker saw him take in spells with the likes of Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Karlsruher SC, which saw him make only 52 appearances and score a paltry seven goals.

His biggest success, as a player at least, came with SC Freiburg. He started his senior career with the ‘Breisgau Brazilians’, and went on to have three different spells with the club (1978-80; 1982-84; 1985-89), scoring 71 goals in 252 games.

He originally began coaching while still playing at Swiss outfit FC Winterthur, before becoming player-coach with another Swiss side, FC Frauenfeld.

He returned to Stuttgart (where he had an unsuccessful spell as a player from 1981-82) as assistant manager to Rolf Fringer. When Fringer left, ‘Jogi’ was given the manager’s job, initially on a caretaker and then eventually permanent basis.

Under Löw, Stuttgart won the DFB-Pokal (aka DFB Cup) in 1997, which was the first time they had lifted the trophy in almost 40 years. A year later he led them to the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, where they lost 1-0 to Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea.

After that, he seemingly wandered through the managerial wilderness, drifting from club-to-club but never really staying long enough to make much of an impact.

Between leaving Stuttgart in ’98 and joining the national team coaching staff in 2004, Löw managed Fenerbache, Karlsruher SC, Adanaspor, FC Tirol Innsbruck (where he won the Austrian Championship) and finally FK Austria Wien. It’s hardly a CV that screams Germany’s next manager.

Klinsmann brought in Löw to help his rebuilding of the nationalmannschaft, which had failed so miserably at Euro 2004. Together they developed a blueprint for success – a quick, dynamic, attack-minded side capable of turning defence into offence in an instant.

With a World Cup to prepare for, they choose to ingrain the philosophy at U21 level and below. The 2006 World Cup itself was a success, with Germany finishing third, but now we are seeing the true fruits of the labour put in by Klinsmann and Löw. It is also worth noting that it was Klinsmann who, when deciding to leave the national team, insisted his assistant get the job.

Get the job he did, and now he is getting the job done. He led them to the Euro 2008 final and the 2010 World Cup semi-final; bested, on both occasions, by a Spanish side who could lay claim to being the best in the world.

Now, with key players peaking and more exciting youngsters than you can fit on a plane to Poland & Ukraine, Löw is on the cusp of finishing what he helped start eight years ago.