Revenge will be weighing on Germany’s minds, who would love to bury the ghost of the 2006 disappointment at the World Cup against Italy. However, coach Joachim Loew surely knows better than to take Italy’s youthful squad lightly and his team doesn’t have a very good record against The Azzuri. Germany have always struggled against them because they are very defensive and concede very few chances against every big nation.
They have known how to defend for years and decades and they know how to take the speed out of a game and bring their opponents out of their rhythm. They also have great individual players so I think it will be an interesting game which will ask a lot of us.”
Team News ans Analysis:
Italy will go into their semi-final clash with Germany knowing they have the ability and experience to reach the final of Euro 2012. Though Joachim Low’s side have looked the team to beat at this year’s tournament, Italy have plenty of strengths of their own and defensively, they have proved they are a tough nut to crack.
They also boast an incredible record against the Germans who haven’t beaten Italy in a major tournament in their previous seven attempts.
The Azzurri haven’t scored many goals, but with Mario Balotelli leading the line, anything is possible and if the City striker is in the mood, he could cause Germany plenty of problems.
And in Andrea Pirlo, Italy have one of the best midfielders in Europe pulling the strings, though the 33-year-old Juventus star, possibly playing his last major tournament, is unlikely to get the kind of space and time he was afforded by England in this match.
Alongside Pirlo is Daniele De Rossi, who has done his reputation no harm over the past few weeks with a series of impressive displays for his country – it’s clear to see why Roberto Mancini admires the Roma midfielder so much.
Finally if Germany can get past a talented midfield and a powerful back four, they will be faced with one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Gianluigi Buffon.
De Rossi and Ignazio Abate both face late fitness tests while Christian Maggio is suspended – Giorgio Chiellini returned to training on Monday and is expected to play.
Buffon (Capt), Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti, Marchisio, Pirlo, Nocerino, Motta, Balotelli, Cassano.
Of course, Germany will go into the game full of confidence having won all four of their games so far (compared with Italy’s record of one win in normal time so far from their four matches) and Mesut Özil believes destiny is calling for his country – yet again!
“We believe in ourselves and the goal is to return to Germany with the title,” said the Real Madrid midfielder.
“That’s why we are here and I’m convinced we can do it. But we are concentrating on the here and now. We are looking forward to the semi, which will be very difficult. But we are confident we can beat anybody.
“Italy are surprisingly strong. You could also see that in the very good match they had against world champions Spain. I think they deserve to be in the semi-finals. They are compact, very strong, but in general we look only at ourselves. If we play as we can, I am convinced we will beat them.”
Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm (Capt), Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Reus, Ozil, Schurrle, Klose.
The match, which takes place in Warsaw on Thursday, kicks off at 19:45 (UK time), 11:45 Pm Pakistan Standard Time (PST) and 12:15 am Indian Standard Time (IST).