Italy take on Germany in the third quarter-final of Euro 2016 in Bordeaux on Saturday with a place in the semi-finals at stake.
The special rivalry between the two teams will turn the game into a battle of nerves and emotions. Both nations have a lengthy history of international success, but Italy have always got the better of the Mannschaft in the games that matter
Looking back into history, Italy has an upper hand as they never lost to Germany in a major competitive fixture. However the four-time World Cup and three-time European Championship winners Germany are not to be taken lightly as Loew’s star studded side have all the potential to break the jinx this time around.
Italy have outplayed the Germans in all their last eight encounters in major tournaments. Notable mentions among those would be the 1982 World Cup Final in which the Azzurri thrashed Germany 3-1.
Football fans can never forget the epic semi-final at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (The game of the century) where Italy beat Germany 4-3. The Germans were also beaten on home soil at the 2006 World Cup where Italy knocked out the Germans 2-0 with wo goals in the final two minutes of extra-time.
The German side were the favourites when both the teams met at the Euro 2012 semi-finals. However two incredible goals from Mario Balotelli sealed Italy’s 2-1 victory over the German side.
Euro 2016 Recap
Italy made a flying start to their Euro 2016 campaign as they outplayed World No.2 Belgium 2-0 in their opening fixture. The highlight of their victory over Belgium was a pitch perfect defensive display from the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and the incredible. Leonardo Bonucci. A late Eder goal paved their 1-0 win over the super impressive Sweden followed by a disappointing 1-0 defeat against minnows Ireland in their last group stage fixture.
Italy topped group with 6 points and set up their last-16 encounter against defending champions Spain. Antonio Conte enhanced his reputation as Italy displayed tactical masterclass to humiliate Spain 2-0, sealing their place in the quarter-finals against World Champions Germany. The Azzurri pressed high and denied Spain the ability to play out of the back. Critics applauded Conte’s tactical mind when he instructed striker Graziano Pellè to man-mark Sergio Busquets, who is responsible for setting up the rhythm of Spain’s tiki-taka ideology.
On the contrary World Champions Germany eased into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 without suffering a single defeat. They started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Ukraine followed by a goalless draw against Poland and a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland in their next two group stage matches.
Germany topped Group C with 7 points to set up a last-16 clash against Slovakia. The Germans were at their attacking best with Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler finding the net as they outplayed the Slovakian side 3-0 to storm into the quarter-finals.
What Managers Say?
Joachim Löw, Germany coach
“This week we have analysed Italy and seen their other games – they don’t just have defensive qualities but also good attacking solutions. Of course they know how to defend and we’ve prepared for that and analysed a few other things. I think we’re well prepared. It’s about a balance in between defence and attack – you must create chances, but you must take them because against Italy you may not have as many as against Northern Ireland.”
“The winner could of course become champions. All the sides that make it this far have that goal; both Germany and Italy have that quality, but there’s still a long way to go. Maybe we’ll have a semi-final against the hosts, but it won’t be easy for them either. There’s still a long way to go, but of course the winners tomorrow may then be favourites for the title.”
“We’re confident because we’re aware of our strengths. But it’s about the opposition as well – the stronger they are, the more we have to address their strengths. I’m not sure if De Rossi will play. Italy are very flexible in their line-up and with them there can always be a surprise in their team. I consider him a very important player for them, but in the end the Italians always have a solution.”
Antonio Conte, Italy coach
“We’re playing a very strong squad from every perspective. They’re a better side than Spain and reigning world champions. I think Germany are the most complete side in the world at the moment. They have a lot of strong players. They have a side with strong principles and organisation – my compliments to their coach and their players.
“In the last few days we’ve tried to study the opposition because it’s going to be a very different game to the Spain one. We’ve tried to identify areas where we can hurt Germany. We have a great deal of respect for them, but we’ll try to play our hand and play to our strengths.
Italy versus Germany is a knockout match, a quarter-final, and a great match for us. If I were to go back in time a month ago it wouldn’t have been a contest because of the respective sides, but now we’re here after beating Spain.
“We’ll need to perform well to overturn the odds, but we’ve worked hard. No one starts as a beaten side. If we do win tomorrow, it will be extremely well earned.
We’re not going to speculate on the condition of Daniele De Rossi but we should say that players must be fully fit for these very intense matches. I’m very confident in the overal quality of my squad.”
Germany have never beaten Italy at a major tournament (D4 L4). Worse still, they have lost all four of their games against Italy in the knockout stages: three times at the World Cup (semi-final in 1970, final in 1982, semi-final in 2006) and once at the European Championship (semi-final in 2012).
Germany and Italy’s last encounter was earlier this year on 29 March: Joachim Low’s men won 4-1 in Munich.
Germany have reached the semi-finals in their last five major tournaments (WC 2006, Euro 2008, WC 2010, Euro 2012, WC 2014).
Germany have won 14 of their last 17 games at major tournaments, drawing two and losing one (1-2 v Italy in the EURO 2012 semi-finals).
Germany are the only team yet to concede a single goal so far at Euro 2016. The only previous time they kept clean sheets in their first four games at a major tournament was in the 1978 World Cup.
Germany have averaged 69 per cent possession over their first four games, the highest ratio so far at EURO 2016.
Italy have kept 19 clean sheets in 37 Euro games, more than any other team in the history of the tournament and just ahead of Germany (18 clean sheets in 47 games). They’ve only conceded one goal at Euro 2016.
The German side has no suspensions or injuries to deal with and Joachim Low is expected to stick to the winning squad.
Probable Germany XI: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Kroos, Khedira; Muller, Ozil, Draxler; Gomez.
Italy may have to play without their star man Daniele De Rossi as he has not recovered from the thigh injury that he pulled up in their 2-0 victory over defending champions Spain.
Lazio winger is still suffering from the hamstring injury that he pulled in their 1-0 group-stage victory over Sweden.
PSG midfielder Thiago Motta will not be available for Saturday’s clash as he picked up a second yellow in their last-16 encounter against Spain.
Probabale Italy XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Sturaro, Parolo, Giaccherini, De Sciglio, Pelle, Eder.