Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will be looking for his side to extend their proud record of never losing to Germany in a major event when they meet today in the second Euro 2012 semi-final in Warsaw.
Germany, who are seeking their first trophy since lifting the Euro ‘96 title, will be by contrast hoping to end that run in what is their eighth meeting at either a World Cup or a European championship finals.
“There is no such thing as an invincible side,” said Prandelli. “Germany have the sense of knowing what they need to do. They are a side with the ingredients to go all the way. But we will study them closely and work on the few weak points they have.”
Prandelli has said the Italians will have to be daring in order to beat Germany, who are on a 15-match winning run in competitive matches since losing to Spain at the last World Cup. Germany’s forwards shone in Friday’s 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece and Prandelli is mindful of the risk of pushing too far forward against a German side with the pace to punish on the counter-attack.
Mario Balotelli is one player the Germans have admitted they will pay close attention to after he spearheaded an Italian attack which had periods of impressive form against England.
Forget about the past: German coach
Germany coach Joachim Loew was defiant when asked about the lack of German success against the Azzurri over the years.
“We can’t turn back time, forget about it, the past doesn’t matter,” said the 52-year-old. “The situation is entirely different now and this is not an issue for us.”
Loew has only concerns over pivotal midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who is still feeling the effects of tearing ankle ligaments in February, but the 27-year-old took full part in training this week. Having won the ‘Group of Death’ by beating the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark en route the knock-out phase, the Germans have made no secret of their desire to lift the Cup.
“We knew before the tournament that we have a strong team,” said Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil. “If we play as we know we can, I am convinced we will beat Italy and reach the finals.”
‘Germany are scared of Italy’
But Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo believes the Germans are running scared and the 33-year-old believes that history will give Italy the edge in the clash of European giants.
“Germany are definitely scared of us, they know we can create difficulties for them in the match,” said the Juventus midfielder.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2012.
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