Thursday evening sees the second semi-final clash of Euro 2012 take place in Warsaw. It will be contested by a Germany team who have beaten all their opponents thus far with consummate ease; and the Italians who make it courtesy of their quarter-final defeat of England on penalties. With the winner to face either Portugal or Spain in the semi-final, I’m going to take look at each team’s journey to the semi-final, main men, team tactics and the likely outcome of what will be a tense game with so much at stake.
Germany may have won five of their six UEFA European Championship semi-finals, but they have never beaten Italy in a competitive match.
The Azzurri have won four of those seven contests, including the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-final held in Germany, and the 1982 World Cup final.
Italy have also progressed from two of their three UEFA European Championship semi-finals, but have yet to score a goal in any of those games.
Germany have won all four matches at Euro 2012, scoring nine goals, while Italy have triumphed just once – against the Republic of Ireland in their final group match – coming through Sunday’s quarter-final against England on penalties.
The main man for this stellar Germany line-up will almost certainly be Mesut Ozil. He has been their stand-out performer thus far and has at times resembled Zinedine Zidane in his prime; with the way he glides across the pitch and effortlessly picks out the most obscenely far-fetched passes with apparent ease. How he plays on the night will determine the fate of Germany in the competition, it seems that he’ll carry on his form and he and the rest of the team will be as unstoppable as usual.
Italy’s key player will definitely be Andrea Pirlo. The magical midfield maestro has run every single game the Italians have played so far, with his performance against England receiving the most attention. He assisted their first goal of the tournament for Antonio Di Natale with a ridiculous left footed pass that stopped right in front of the striker to finish. Pirlo seems to be the definition of class, with a supreme first touch as well as vision and a range of passing second to none at the moment. He is the only Italy player who could walk into the Germany side on current form and he’ll be his country’s main hope of making it to the final.
The Germans tend to set up in a modern 4-2-3-1 with Mario Gomez leading the line, flanked by Podolski and Muller with Ozil playing behind him. Schweinsteiger and Khedira sit in front of the back four and take turns to dash forward and support the attack. Germany have an all-Bayern Munich defence apart from Mats Hummels and one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Manuel Neuer. They will look to pass the ball quickly around the pitch, with their defenders being comfortable with the ball at their feet; they will play their unique brand of total football in which Ozil plays the role of orchestrator and Gomez provides a focal point.
Italy will most likely line up in their favoured 4-2-2-2 formation, with Cassano and Balotelli up front and two attacking midfielders in behind (Marchisio, Montolivo, Diamanti or Nocerino). Daniele De Rossi is a doubt for the game but the Italy camp are confident of patching him up in time for the game; if he recovers he will sit in front of the defence alongside Andrea Pirlo, who will run the game from deep. The Italian defence are seriously short-staffed, with Abate and Chiellini being doubts due to fitness and Christian Maggio being suspended. If none of them make it in time for the game, the Italians will be forced to line up with their only remaining defenders: Barzaghli, Bonucci, Balzaretti and Ogbonna.
How the Germans can win it:
Germany will win the game if they carry on as they’ve been doing so far. They’ve won every single game in their journey so far, including qualifying and go into the game strong favourites. If they manage to silence Pirlo they will be half-way there to victory as he is the Italians ace. Ozil and co. will need to be at their majestic best and not underestimate their opponents; however if they stay focused, they shouldn’t face too much difficulty in breaking down an already average and now injury-ridden Italy side.
How the Italians can win it:
The Italians will need to be on the very top of their game in order to get anything from this game, Pirlo will need to have the ball in order for him to influence the game as much as he can and Balotelli will need to have a good day and show everyone that he’s a world class player, preferably by getting onto the scoresheet. They will need a healthy dose of luck and hope that the Germans are off-point to have the best chance. If they manage to produce a moment of magic, apply the finish and hold out then they can do it.
The Germans seem unstoppable at the moment and in my opinion will go on to win the tournament, I think that the Italians will run it to the wire and keep German fans on the edge of their seats; however eventually the German’s superior quality will pull them through. I predict a cagey affair to start off with as Italy look to defend deep, but if Germany score, the match could become more open and we may see goals. Final score: 2-0 to Germany.
- 30 Sexiest WAGs Of 2012
- 50 Sexiest Women You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
- 10 Most Paused Movie Moments
- Football’s Worst Ever Cheating Divers
- 10 Great Footballers Who Made Terrible Managers
- 100 Greatest Premier League Players Of All Time
- 50 Great Footballers Who Ruled 2012
- 15 Worst Ever Premier League Signings