Two heavy-weight European giants – Italy and Germany – will face each other at Nouveau Stade Bordeaux on Saturday evening in the quarterfinal of Euro 2016.
Italy boss Antonio Conte notes in his press conference that the Germans are a “complete team”. The World champions are choc-a-bloc with world-class players at every position and will start as favourites but they’re up against a side against whom they have never won at a major tournament.
Ahead of the match, let us take a look at the two sides and do a comparative analysis on who holds an edge over the other.
Usually, players tend to lose their reflex with age. In the case of Gigi Buffon, it is quite the opposite. Like an old wine, he is getting better with age. Buffon’s reflexes are as good as any young goalkeeper. He has been in brilliant form and guides the team from the back . He is the most capped played for Italy (160) and has been playing for his country for 20 years now, but his passion for the game and hunger to succeed has never dropped.
Manuel Neuer, on the other hand, is a different type of player; a rare breed, who has revolutionised the game with his innovative skill sets. At times he becomes a sweeper-goalkeeper as if he is the fifth defender for his team. Rating: Italy 9/10, Germany: 8/10.
Italy are known for their defence. The BBC trio of – Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini – are the strong pillars at the back. These players are club mates of each other and share a brilliant understanding among themselves. While Chiellini stays close to the forward, the other two are tasked with developing the attack from the back.
Germany are the only side remaining in this competition that are yet to concede a goal so far. The centre-back pairing of Hummels and Boateng are almost unbreachable. The German fullbacks have equally impressed with the likes of Kimmich and Hector make brilliant overlapping runs and equally track back quickly when needed. Rating: Italy 7/10, Germany 8 /10.
Conte has a big problem in midfield. Roma’s midfield maestro Daniele De Rossi remains a huge doubt after sustaining a thigh injury against Spain. With Thiago Motta already suspended, Conte doesn’t have enough top class options with him. The likes of Parolo and Giaccherini will have to take extra responsibilities, should De Rossi fails to recover in time.
In contrast, Germany’s main strength lies in midfield. The best thing about this side is how versatile the midfield lineup is for Low. Sami Khedira is a hard tackler whose does an excellent job in breaking up plays. Toni Kroos is a midfield metronome while Mesut Ozil remains the primary supplier of key passes for the forwards. Rating: Italy 6/10, Germany: 8/10
Both Graziano Pelle and Eder didn’t enjoy a great domestic 2015/16 campaign for their respective clubs but Conte has kept faith in them. And unsurprisingly, they are repaying it. Lorenzo Insigne has made an impact too when called upon; his direct runs and pace add a different dimension to the attack, especially towards the end when opposition defence tiring up.
Thomas Muller has been a huge disappointment for Germany, failing to score so far. But we all know, he is capable of winning a match on his own. Julian Draxler has impressed in his last match against Slovakia and he will be hoping to terrorise the Italian defence with his pace, movement and trickery. Rating: Italy 6/10, Germany: 7/10.