Germany and Italy play out the second Euro 2012 semi-final on Thursday, with the winner set to face Spain in Sunday’s final. Both teams are unbeaten in the competition to date, and are coming off the back of morale-boosting quarter-finals victories.
Germany have lived up to pre-tournament expectations, and have set a new world record by winning 15 consecutive competitive fixtures in a row. Joachim Low’s men have been too good for their opponents at the competition so far, with easy victories over Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark and Greece seeing them through to this stage without ever really being put under any real pressure.
Low decided to rest key attacker Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller in their last game against the Greeks, and as such the trio should be fresh for the latter stages. The Germans have also had two days more extra rest after their last game than Italy, which could play a part in the result after a long season of football.
The Germans have been handed a boost ahead of the game as Bastian Schweinsteiger has been declared fit to play after shaking off a niggling injury, but the rest of Low’s starting XI should be interesting to see. The likes of Mesut Ozil and Muller will be charged with breaking down a stubborn Italian backline, whilst a glamour final against Spain sits in wait.
Italy were being discounted as challengers ahead of the tournament in Ukraine and Poland, but have pulled together to overcome less-than-ideal preparation. A hard-fought 1-1 draw against Spain in their opener was followed up by the same result against Croatia a couple of days later; however a 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland got them through to the knockout stages.
Although the Azzurri dominated the game against England in the quarter-finals they could not score, but were good value for their penalties win. Cesare Prandelli will note a number of things from their win over the Three Lions that will have an impact on whether his team makes the final or not. Firstly Andrea Pirlo continues to wholeheartedly impress in a deep-lying midfield role; the Azzurri will look to get their Juventus star on the ball as much as possible to create opportunities and retain possession. Mario Balotelli was wasteful in front of goal in the last match, and will not get the same amount of chances this time round; the Manchester City man will need to take his opportunities when they arise.
This should be a tight fixture, and although the Germans are overwhelming favourites they are not guaranteed a place in Sunday’s final. If the Italians can keep it tight for the first 45 then anything can happen, and we could see extra-time and penalties once more.
Tags: Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Euro 2012, Euro 2012 Match Day 18 Preview, Germany, Germay vs Italy, Italy, Joachim Low, Lukas Podolski, Mario Balotelli, Mario Gomez, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller