Clash of Titans- Azzuri vs Die Mannschaft
In the second semi finals of Euro 2012 two of the traditional superpowers of the game will clash in a mouth-watering encounter. The two teams last played in Euro 1988 group stages when the match finished in a 1-1 draw.
Semi Final 2: Germany vs Italy
Thursday, 28 June 2012
21:45 (local time); 14:45(EST); 00:15(IST)
National Stadium, Warsaw
Germany will go into the match confident being the only team to have won all their matches in the tournament. Although Germany is up against history never having beaten Italy in seven previous competitive matches, Spain overcame a similar record against France in the quarter-finals and they will be looking to do the same. This German team has a mixture of experience and youth and have options in all positions and will give their best.
Italy has looked solid in this tournament. They were very good against Spain in arguably the best match in the tour5nament so far with respect to quality of the football played. The Italians have been surprisingly attacking instead of their defensive style. The only time they went into their defensive shell was during the second half against Croatia. They were very impressive against England in the quarter-finals creating a lot of chances but not converting. The Azzuri will be up for this encounter as they inevitably are in crunch matches in the knock-out phases of major tournaments.
Germany was impressive in their match against Greece playing attacking football trying to score at every opportunity. They conceded two goals, the second through a very debatable penalty. They controlled 70% of possession and showed their full attacking prowess after the Greek equaliser. The three new starters Klose, Schurrle and Reus impressed with their play. Gomez, Podolski and Muller will be fresh and rested and hungry to play in this game.
Italy looked very good against England in all areas of the game except finishing their chances. The Azzuri had a massive 35 shots on goal in 120 minutes and could not score. They outplayed their opponents with a fantastic performance by Andrea Pirlo who has been arguably the player of the tournament till now. The defence is typically solid and the fullbacks both joined up with the offensive line quite well. Italians had two days of rest less than the Germans which maybe a factor late in the game with a good change of the game going beyond 90 minutes.
Teams & Formations
Germany will go with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation which their manager Joachim Loew likes. The team has no suspensions to worry about. There have been questions on the condition of the ankle ligaments of Bastien Schweinsteiger but he should start. The German wide mid-fielders will look to press the Italian full-backs when they have possession preventing them from joining up in attack which will make the Italian mid-field very narrow. Podolski should come back in place of Schurrle who was a bit too predictable against Greece cutting inside from the left and shooting. Reus will probably retain his place ahead of Muller as he brought a lot of energy to the German mid-field. Sammy Khedira has been making very good runs from the deep in this tournament very similar to what Schweinsteiger usually does. The latter’s ankle ligaments maybe are the reason for his not producing such runs. Mesut Ozil was very impressive against Greece with his movement and passing and he created two goals in the process. The big choice Loew has to make is Gomez or Klose who to start? He may opt for Gomez as he will be rested and raring to go.
Germany(4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng; Mats Hummels; Philipp Lahm; Sammy Khedira; Bastien Schweinsteiger; Marco Reus ; Mesul Ozil; Lukas Podolski; Mario Gomez
Manager: Joachim Loew
Italy (4-1-3-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Ignazio Abate; Andrea Barzagli; Leonardo Bonucci; Federico Balzaretti; Andrea Pirlo; Claudio Marchisio; Thiago Motta; Daniele De Rossi; Mario Balotelli; Antonio Cassano
Manager: Cesare Prandelli
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)
Italy has played good football in this tournament. They are surprisingly the team with most attempts on goal with 87. The manager Cesare Prandelli started the first two matches of the tournament with a 3-5-2 formation. After two identical 1-1 score-lines he went back to his favoured 4-1-3-2 formation. Andrea Pirlo is the lynchpin of this team and he has been sensational. Maggio is suspended for this game but it does not affect the starting eleven too much. Thiago Motta who was injured for the last match may play in place of Montolivo to contain the attacking threat of the German mid-field. Daniele de Rossi has been affected by sciatica but should start. The Italian forwards have not scored enough and that is the reason they have won only one match in regular time in the tournament. Balotelli is an enigma who gets into great position and then gets cold feet. Cassano has been very impressive working hard and creating a lot of chances. The Italians will have to score goals otherwise their dream for a second Euro title will be over.
“We did well against Greece but Italy are a different proposition,” –Joachim Loew German Manager
“We are quite a bit short because we only have very few days of recovery time. We need to put out a side that’s athletically fit, because we will have to fight against Germany. If we play well, though, we have a chance. There is no such thing as an invincible side. Spain and Germany are truly very good, but we just need to stick to our task, and we must be meticulously prepared.” –Cesare Prandelli Italian Manager