Euro 2012 semi finals: Germany v Italy preview
Published: 28.06.12 / Written by: David Gold
These two teams come into this game with good reason to be confident.
Germany presumably more so, as they have won every game in this tournament to cement their status as favourites. They have done so in style too. They came through their group with an 100% record – which despite Germany’s status as the most successful team in the tournament’s history, was the first time they had achieved that particular feat.
What makes it even more impressive is that it was achieved in the ‘Group of Death’, against Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands. Their quarter final with Greece was on paper their most straightforward game, and though they did not look at their blistering best for most of the encounter, they still had enough quality to romp to a 4-2 win.
Italy though, represent a stern test. They have not lost to Germany in the last five meetings between the sides, and actually have never been beaten by them in a competitive fixture. The last time they played in a major tournament was in the semi final of the World Cup in 2006, when Italy beat Germany on home soil to advance to the final, which they won.
Italy also have an excellent semi final record, having won eight out of ten previously. However, this one looks harder than most. This is not a vintage Italy side. Germany on the other hand, are in blistering form, and have scored more goals than anyone else in this tournament. Italy, conversely, have scored just four, the fewest of all the remaining teams. They have though had more shots than anyone else in the entire tournament, raising question marks over their finishing.
This should be a particularly fascinating duel between two teams who like to attack. But in a very different way. Germany have a fluid, energetic and technical attack, spearheaded by the prolific Mario Gomez. Behind him Joachim Low can choose from Mesut Ozil, Lukasz Podolski, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Marco Reus. Oh, and Miroslav Klose, one of international football’s most prolific forwards in tournament football of the last decade.
Italy may not have the same quality, but they have players who can cause Germany trouble. Not least the sumptuous brilliance of Andrea Pirlo.
Pirlo tormented England on Sunday but is unlikely to be afforded as much space by Germany. That said, he only needs one touch to put a superb pass through for Mario Balotelli or Antonio Cassano. That route almost brought dividends against England and scared their back line .
Germany should play a higher line so Italy will pose a serious threat on the counter attack. With Claudio Marchisio and Ricardo Montolivo hard working and creative partners for Pirlo in midfield, Germany may have some problems containing the Italian threat.
Ultimately though, this looks a game Germany should win. They have been too good for everyone so far, and though they do not have a great record against Italy, they are so good at present that they should be able to finally lay that particular hoodoo to rest.