Germany defender Mats Hummels says the Euro 2016 quarter-final win over Italy was “a big moment”, although he does not believe his country’s national team have broken any form of curse.
Joachim Low’s side triumphed 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Bordeaux in July, with Hummels among those to be successful from the spot before Matteo Darmian missed the crucial kick.
The victory was Germany’s first over Italy at a major tournament and went some way towards avenging defeats suffered at the 2006 World Cup and the semi-final stage of Euro 2012, although the reigning world champions went on to lose to hosts France in the last four this year.
Speaking ahead of the friendly clash between the teams in Milan on Tuesday, Hummels acknowledged it was an important triumph for Germany but did not agree with suggestions the poor previous record afforded the result added significance.
“It was a big moment for us,” he said. “For me it was not as special because I haven’t played so often against Italy. I don’t think we broke a curse.
“This game is something special. Against Italy we’ve had a lot of thrilling games in the last few years. I think it is my fifth game against Italy. It’s always special and I’m excited.”
Germany are now unbeaten in their last three meetings with the Azzurri, but Hummels does not believe the next encounter will be straightforward.
“I know them as a very good opponent,” he said. “We haven’t lost the last three matches against Italy. It was 1-1 in Italy, we won at home and at the European Championship we won after a penalty shootout.
“But every match was very hard and I think it will be the same in the future.”
— Die Mannschaft (@DFB_Team) November 14, 2016
Germany’s players met Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican in the build-up to the match, and Hummels was moved by the experience.
“It was very beautiful and impressive – I think impressive is the right word for that,” said the Bayern Munich man. “I will never forget that and I think the others think the same. It was a surreal meeting.”
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