Team News: Germany can basically field two sides. That is how talented their 23-man squad is. Bastian Schweinsteiger had been declared fit after there were some worries over an ankle injury. But Joachim Loew will need to decide whether to attack with the players he chose last time (Marco Reus, Andreas Schuerrle and Miroslav Klose) or revert to the usual trio of Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomal Mueller.
This is a semi-final and for one thing, we believer Gomez will get the nod ahead of Klose. The remaining two choices still are a bit of a headache.
Italy will miss out on Giorgio Chiellini with a thigh injury and there are concerns over Daniele de Rossi and Ignazio Abate’s fitness. As for the midfield, Riccardo Montolivo impressed with his creativity last time out and should start ahead of Thiago Motta. The strike-pairing should also remain the same— Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.
Bastian Schweinsteiger vs Andrea Pirlo: This is the most important head-to-head clash. Both players have had a tremendous tournament, with Pirlo maybe just edging it on form. While Pirlo will go higher up the pitch, Schweinsteiger might stick back to counter the Italian’s threat.
Sami Khedira vs Riccardo Montolivo: It will be scrappy Sami against the highly technical Montolivo. The Italian’s game is a bit like that of Luka Modric and he can be dangerous with the speedy attackers ahead of him. Khedira will need to be at his best to stop him.
Mario Gomez vs Andrea Barzagli: Gomez will win this battle solely on confidence. He has found the net from acute angles and against good defences. So Barzagli needs to be backed up by the rest of the defence to stop this striker.
Holger Badstuber vs Mario Balotelli: Balotelli is a big strong lad. Badstuber is even stronger. In fact, this will be very well matched. Forget about the long balls though, because Badstuber will easily win those battles. His centre-back partner Matt Hummels is also apt in the air.
Mesut Ozil vs Daniele de Rossi: Ozil’s battle could easily have been with Federico Balzaretti, but he has drifted inside from the left and could head up against De Rossi. The Italian has a tendency to go forward and Ozil may exploit that on the counter. But strength and tackling wise, De Rossi should win the battle.
FROM THE CAMPS
Loew knows his priorities: “Pirlo is an exceptional player, with good ideas. He’s the one who directs the game, so we have to stop him and get in his radius. We will not let Italy show us how to play football. It’s a confidence thing. We have to be cheeky, we have to be strong and brave.”
Cesare Prandelli though, is relying on his dreams: “When I close my eyes and dream, I always dream of fantastic things. I will dream about a wonderful, fantastic evening.
But he will attack: “We cannot sit deep. It would be a shame to waste two years’ work. Germany will press us high up the pitch. We are ready for this.”
DID YOU KNOW
Out of 30 meetings between the two, Italy have won 14 times and Germany seven times. There have been nine draws.
Italy have never lost a competitive game against Germany.
Out of 17 semifinals, Germany have won 11.
Germany have also won their last 15 matches- an incredible record.
Germany have the best goal-tally (nine) in Euro 2012, while Italy have conceded just two goals.
But Italy have a tendency to shoot a lot. They have taken the most shots (59) in Euro 2012 and Mario Balotelli has taken 14 of those. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has taken more shots than him.
Germany have a goal threat all over the park. Seven different players have scored goals in Euro 2012.