Germany looks as efficient as ever but has yet to reproduce some of the flair.
Gdansk: Three games, three wins, best record of the tournament. So, what's missing from Germany's game at the European Championship? A killer instinct, says coach Joachim Loew. Germany looks as efficient as ever but has yet to reproduce some of the flair it displayed at the World Cup two years ago.
Loew says it was logical for his team to put more emphasis on defense in a tough group that consisted of four teams ranked in the Top 10. Loew says his side could show more of a "killer instinct" in its finishing and should close down some of the space it has allowed so far between its midfield and attack.
Germany goes into its quarterfinal against Greece in Gdansk on Friday with speculation ripe in the country's media that Loew may reshuffle his lineup. Loew, as always, has not ruled out anything, while not revealing anything, either.
But after beating Denmark 2-1 in its last group match, a visibly relieved Loew said: "We have room to improve ... We must use our chances better, we are lacking some killer instinct in our finishing.
We should have scored more goals earlier (against Denmark)." Mario Gomez scored all three goals in Germany's first two wins, 1-0 over Portugal and 2-1 over the Netherlands, then Lukas Podolski and Lars Bender netted against Denmark.
Some German media are speculating that Loew may bring back Miroslav Klose for Gomez, or use one his more attacking midfielders, such as Marco Reus.
"We are a team of more than 11 players," said midfielder Thomas Mueller. Mueller was the top scorer at the World Cup with five goals, but has yet to score here.
Loew wants his team to play a quick-passing, attacking game, but conceded that in the group matches the Germans had to pay more attention to their defense.
"We played against three very good teams that have very good attacking players and we didn't allow them too many chances. It was important to play solid defense," Loew said.
"We played well forward, but not so much after conceding goals. We gave our opponents some space between our midfield and our attack, there were too many gaps."
Loew said he had a solution, without revealing details.
"In a tournament, it's important to have a good balance between the defense and the attack, but the attacks remains our focus. We are not going to shift away from our passing game," he said.
"There are a few small things that can improve our game." Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira also thinks Germany gave away too much space.
"We have to be cleverer. The rivals are not getting easier. But we are calmer than two years ago, we are more patient and we don't lose our poise if things are not going the way we'd imagined," Khedira said Wednesday.
That's the kind of game Germany displayed against Denmark, using a lot of patience until Bender scored the winner in the 80th minute.
Greece is a defense-first team and Germany is certain to step up the pace in the quarter-final.