EURO 2012 LIVE: Germany vs. Greece

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2035: Derek Gatopoulos, AP’s reporter with the Greek team: “The Greek fans were first to appear in force, a block of about 500 arrived chanting ‘Hellas, Hellas’. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly friendly. Again, many Greek fans appear to have traveled from Germany and there were loud boos from them as the German players ran onto the pitch to warm up. They unfurled a giant flag but it was upside down, so they rolled it back up again.”

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1955: German coach Joachim Loew must be confident of getting a result tonight! He’s dropped his three main forwards, including leading striker Mario Gomez who is replaced by veteran Miroslav Klose. Loew also drops Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller, giving Andre Schuerrle and Marco Reus their first starts at the tournament. A fourth change sees Jerome Boateng return as right back after serving a one-match suspension, with Lars Bender returning to the bench.

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1950: Tonight’s teams:

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Phillipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinstiger, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus, Miroslav Klose.

Greece: Michalis Sifakis, Giannis Maniatis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis, Giorgos Tzavellas, Konstantinos Katsouranis, Grigoris Makos, Sotiris Ninis, Dimitrios Salpingidis, Georgios Samaras.

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1930: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in the stadium tonight, sitting next to UEFA chief Michel Platini. I wonder how the Greek fans will react when her image is _ inevitably _ beamed up onto the big screen. The new prime minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, won’t be traveling. “The prime minister is a football fanatic and will be watching the game on television,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said. He is also due to undergo eye surgery on Saturday.

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1900: Less than two hours to go until the most politically-charged match of Euro 2012 _ and it couldn’t have been scripted better. Greece, whose economy has imploded, is up against Germany, which has insisted on deep austerity cuts in return for bailout funds. So much to play for tonight in terms of national pride. The Germans are overwhelming favorites, but the Greeks will be raring to go.

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1845: There is a huge German contingent in Gdansk, but the Greeks are making some serious noise. And the build-up to the match has been peaceful and vibrant around the city.

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