By Max Grieve
Angela Merkel frowned, probably. Here was Giorgos Karagounis, a Greek man with a Greek name, taking the plaudits for something that they had both done; though not together. The Germans have kept the Greek economy alive - just - but it was Karagounis who bailed out the Greeks against Russia on Saturday.
Whoever Germany’s quarter-final opponent was going to be, there would always be darker clouds hanging over the match. Many had thought that Germany would face Poland, which would have had commentators the world over reaching for their 20th century history tomes, flicking through the pages that covered the Second World War. Alternatively, a meeting with the Russians might have awaited the Germans on the 22nd of June, on the anniversary of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. Such has been Germany’s role in the shaping of modern Europe, it would come as little surprise for them to face any side at these European Championships and have it deemed as a grudge match of sorts.
What few expected was that the animosity that they shared with their quarter-final opponent would be derived from something far more recent than a rivalry from the World Wars. Rather, we are presented with a match with an immediate political, and indeed economic, history. The meeting between Greece and Germany will, in all likelihood, mean little else to the Germans than another inconvenience to their divine demolition of the European international football scene. They are amongst the favourites, if indeed they don’t stand alone at the top of such an esteemed pile. Greece, meanwhile, reside at the other end of the spectrum – yet here we are.