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Greece-Germany Preview

By TOM BENNETT

STATS European Football Writer

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Tournament favourites Germany head into Friday's quarter-final knowing that they have never lost at this stage of a European championships.

The Germans play Greece in Gdansk in the second quarter-final on Friday evening, and will be hoping to make it a sixth successful visit to the last eight of a Euros.

Joachim Loew's side secured qualification from Group B courtesy of a 2-1 win over Denmark, cementing top spot in the 'Group of Death' and maintaining the only 100% record in the tournament. However, Loew is fully aware that Friday's quarter-final will be far from a walkover.

"We survived the group with nine points, that is a strong performance," said Loew. "But we can still improve in the coming games.

"The Greeks have had three goal chances thus far in the tournament and scored three goals. They are the champions of efficiency. From previous tournaments it's well known that they defend incredibly well."

The presence of Greece in the quarters is one of the shocks of the tournament, with Fernando Santos' side bouncing back from disappointing performances in the opening two games of the tournament with a surprise win over Russia to progress from Group A.

"No matter who we play, the quarter-final is going to be very tough," admitted the Greece manager. "However, it's another ball game now. These are knockout matches over 90 minutes, extra time perhaps and even penalty shoot-outs. Anything can happen.

"We will prepare as best we can. We know our strengths and limitations. We are not the best in the world, but we will look to stretch ourselves."

It's the second time that Greece have reached this stage of a Euros, and the last time they did so was their triumphant tournament back in 2004, but vice-captain Kostas Katsouranis insists that the team aren't getting carried away after the win over Russia and will just go out to enjoy themselves.

"Our feelings are hard to describe," said a relaxed Katsouranis. "We are all so happy, we haven't yet grasped the significance of our achievement.

"I think we played great, especially defensively. We closed down space as best as we could and gave the Russians no opportunities to threaten our goal. When we had possession, we managed to make the most of it. We qualified deservedly. After our performance our confidence is even greater. We always trust in our abilities. We are not looking for reassurance. Football is a game. We know we have a good team, a mixture of experienced and young players.

"Between us, partly joking, we were saying before the match that we have four matches left. We don't know where our adventure here will take us."

Germany's Jerome Boateng is available after suspension, but Greece are without captain Giorgos Karagounis and José Holebas after they received second bookings of the tournament against Russia. Kostas Chalkias is doubtful with a hamstring problem, while Avraam Papadopoulos is out of the tournament and probably the first half of next season with an Achilles injury.

Friday's referee is experienced Slovenian Damir Skomina. The official is at his second Euros, and also took charge of Arsenal v AC Milan and Benfica v Chelsea in the knockout stages of this year's Champions League.

The winners of the game in Gdansk will play either England or Italy in the Thursday semi-final in Warsaw.

Updated June 20, 2012

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