Powerful Germany against Slovakia
Germany convincingly placed in the last eight of the European Cup, Slovakia was not on the level of world champion.
Germany enhanced their status as favourites for Euro 2016 as they overwhelmed Slovakia in Lille to set up a quarter-final against Italy or Spain.
Centre-back Jerome Boateng gave the world champions an eighth-minute lead with a superb 25-yard volley before Mario Gomez poked in the second.
Julian Draxler, who provided a superb assist for the second, made it 3-0 with a near-post volley after the break.
Unfortunate Mesut Ozil also missed a penalty for Germany in the 14th minute.
Slovakia’s best chance fell to player AC Milan Juraj Kucka, whose header was brilliantly tipped over by Manuel Neuer.
The last-eight tie between Joachim Low’s side and one of the other fancied teams takes place in Bordeaux next Saturday.
The three-time European champions have set a standard. Their performance in Lille was arguably the most dominant by a team at this championship.
After three average group displays, this was more trademark Low. The 56-year-old is a coach who does not believe in rigid roles, and against Slovakia the movement of his attack stretched the opposition defence.
Germany started in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Draxler on the left, Ozil in middle and Thomas Muller on the right of the attack, just behind striker Mario Gomez.
But Draxler often interchanged with Mesut Ozil, and Muller covered much of the Slovak half.
Jan Kozak’s side spent the match chasing the Germans, and the game, after Bayern Munich’s Boateng rifled in the first with a brilliant piece of opportunism.
They should have made it 2-0 but Ozil’s tame spot-kick was easily saved by Matus Kozacik, after Gomez had been fouled by Martin Skrtel.
That miss did not knock the Germans off their stride, however, as the excellent Draxler teased Kucka down the left before finding Gomez, who scored his second of the tournament.
And despite playing at a lower tempo after the break, Germany still managed to score a third when Draxler placed a near-post volley high past Kozacik.
Another German gem
Although Draxler is only 22, he has been deemed as one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe since his 2011-12 breakthrough season at Schalke.
In an interview with the BBC in 2013, he spoke about improving his game without the ball, and now in 2016 the Wolfsburg player is almost the finished product.
His runs allowed Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil to find space and influence the attack. And his final ball has also improved, as demonstrated when he set up Gomez for the second goal. The well-taken volley in the 63rd minute was deserved reward for an impressive performance.
Having played a peripheral role at the 2014 World Cup, he is now a major part of Low’s side.