Later today in Warsaw, Germany and Italy will square off in the second semi-final of Euro 2012 for a place in Sunday’s final against champions Spain. The fixture is a repeat of the 2006 World Cup semi-final, where Italy beat hosts Germany 2-0—scoring two goals in a minute at the death of extra time to end Germany’s dreams of lifting their fourth World Cup.
Veteran Germany striker Miroslav Klose revealed the loss on home turf was a “trauma” while captain Philipp Lahm said “of course we still have that [match] in our minds”. However, coach Joachim Loew, who was assistant coach at the time, refused to place any significance on the loss, stating, “In football there is no such thing as revenge. The past plays absolutely no role for us or for our young players who may know things only from history.”
Germany who arrived at Euro 2012 with the youngest ever squad at a Euros, were tipped by many before the tournament as the only team capable of knocking Spain off their Perch. And they have lived up to their billing, comfortably wining all four of their games, scoring nine goals and conceding four.
However, against Italy they face a fearsome adversary. Despite being favorites to progress to the final, Germany has yet to beat Italy in seven attempts at a major tournament, and in Warsaw will go toe-to-toe with an Italy team confident of making it to the final. In fact, Italy’s renaissance man Andrea Pirlo says: “They are afraid of us – we are at the level of Spain”.
But Die Mannschaftare are unlikely to be quaking in their boots, having won all 15 of their previous games. But then again neither will the Italians who are unbeaten in competitive games under coach Cesare Prandelli.
Germany’s only doubt for the game is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has been suffer with an ankle injury, but he looks certain to play having been declared fit. Joachim Loew should also recall Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller after having rested trio against Greece.
Italy, however, may have to make a few changes to the team that beat England in the quarter-final, as Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate are all injury doubts for coach Cesare Prandelli.
Germany will have to stop Italy’s Andrea Pirlo from dictating play otherwise they risk being run ragged like the English were. The 33-year-old playmaker completed 117 passes against England—more than the combined tally of England’s four starting midfielders, and the most of any player so far at Euro 2012.
But the Azzurri are more than just a one-man team, and with Prandelli promising to attack, the game will hopefully be a spectacle.
German are the favorites, but Italy has history on their side–something’s gotta give.
• The Azzurri are meeting Germany for the 31st time, with their record in previous encounters reading W14, D9, L7. They have not lost to the Germans since a 2-0 friendly defeat in June 1995.
• Germany and Italy have met seven times in competitive games, all of which came at either World Cups or European Championships. Germany has yet to win (D4, L3). Italy beat the Germans in the World Cup semi-finals in 1970 and 2006.
• The two previous European Championship clashes both ended in group stage draws; 1-1 in 1988 and 0-0 in 1996. The latter result eliminated Italy.
• Joachim Low’s side has scored at least once in each of their last 20 games.
• Germany have won their last 15 competitive games, breaking the 14-match international record previously held by Spain (2010-11), Netherlands (2008-10) and France (2002-04)
• Germany has appeared in six European Championship semi-finals, failing to reach the final just once – a 2-1 defeat to the Dutch in 1988. Overall, they have reached the semi-final of major tournaments 17 times, losing on just six occasions.
• According to Opta, Mats Hummels and Sami Khedira are the only outfield players to have completed four Euro 2012 games without conceding a single foul.
• Italy has failed to reach the final in two of the 10 semi-finals they have played at major tournaments. They lost to USSR at Euro 88 and to Argentina (on penalties) at the 1990 World Cup.
• The Azzuri have failed to score in their three previous European Championship semi-finals. They progressed to the final in 1968 after winning a coin toss following a 0-0 draw with the USSR. The Soviets exacted revenge 20 years later, winning 2-0 at the same stage. In 2000 they beat Holland on penalties following a 0-0 draw.
• The Italians has been involved in eight goalless draws at European Championship finals – more than any other side
• Italy are yet to lose a competitive game under Cesare Prandelli, recording nine wins and five draws to date.