Germany head to San Siro on Friday hoping to bring an end to their dismal recent record against Italy.
The Germans – who will be managed by Joachim Low for the 100th time – last tasted victory in this fixture back in 1995 and have since gone on to draw two and lose four of the subsequent six fixtures, only one of which was played in Italy.
Furthermore, Germany have never beaten Italy at a major tournament, and continued that trend at Euro 2012, when the Azzurri recorded a 2-1 semi-final victory.
Italy were also responsible for Germany’s last-four exit from the 2006 FIFA World Cup – winning 2-0 after extra time before going on to lift the trophy.
The statistics are made all the more remarkable by the fact that Germany currently sit second in the world rankings – six places above their opponents this week.
But centurion Low – who has led Germany to the final of Euro 2008 as well as the last four of the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 – hopes facing his country’s bogey team will prove to be the perfect preparation for the 2014 World Cup, a tournament both teams reached by winning their qualifying groups.
“Italy are tactically world class, and the national team still plays at a high level,” he said. “The Italians are characterised by their cleverness and efficiency.
“To play against this team was our desire, because we can only evolve if we face strong opponents.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, meanwhile, believes his side’s friendlies against Germany and Nigeria next week can help narrow down his squad for next year’s tournament.
“There are places available,” he said. “Many players are motivated, they want to prove that they can be a part of such a group. I have in my mind 35 players so nothing is definite.
“I have a precise idea of what type of football I want the team to play.
“Seeing as I am not able to work with the team a lot on the pitch, I’ve had to use official games to understand this. During the games, there will be various interpretations but our reference module will be that of four midfielders.”