LEGIONOWO, Poland (AP) — Far from being wary of a quarterfinals showdown with a rampant Germany, Greece's players are thriving on their "life-or-death" matches at Euro 2012 according to coach Fernando Santos.
Faced with elimination from the tournament, Greece managed to beat Russia 1-0 in their last Group A game on Saturday and squeeze into the last eight. Santos said Monday that the absolute need to win that match had helped his players overcome their earlier lapses in concentration.
"I think knockout games are good for us because the players concentrate from the start of the game. When it's life-and-death, all or nothing, that has been an advantage for us," Santos told a news conference.
That said, Greece has plenty of respect for a Germany side that won all three of its matches in Group B.
"Germany's quality is without question, a team built over time that we all know well ... They are an excellent team with an excellent coach," Santos said, before adding a frank assessment of his own side.
"We know that we're not the best team in the world. But every opponent we have will have to sweat blood to get past us."
Greece will be missing two first-team regulars for Friday's game in Gdansk.
Playmaker and scorer of the decisive goal against Russia, Giorgos Karagounis, is suspended, while central defender Avraam Papadopoulos is out of the tournament due to injury.
Karagounis could be replaced by midfielder Grigoris Makos, who said that the Russia win had settled the team after two slow starts in the group.