Joachim Low believes Germany’s Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Italy are a stronger side than four years ago – when they reached the European Championship final.
Germany go head-to-head with Antonio Conte’s men in Bordeaux on Saturday after easing past their round-of-16 opponents Slovakia, but Low is wary of the threat posed by Italy’s counter-attacking game.
The Azzurri have been impenetrable in their victories over Belgium, Sweden and Spain, and though they conceded a goal in their final group game against the Republic of Ireland, Low is focussing on how to break down one of the tournaments meanest defences.
“I’m looking forward to the game immensely,” said Low. “Italy were very impressive [against Spain].
“Italy work well together in defence and have lots of quality in attack. They are a better team than in 2012.
“We need to avoid the Italy counter attack and have a good plan going forward.
“Sami Khedira is a clever player and I will be seeking his advice ahead of the Italy game.”
Low has a fully fit squad and a whole week to prepare for the game, and he paid tribute to his medical staff for keeping his players in shape.
Defender Jerome Boateng was struggling with a calf injury prior to the 3-0 win over Slovakia, but intensive treatment helped him recover in time to play – and score – in the game.
Low said: “We have every player available. The medical team worked with Jerome Boateng non-stop prior to the Slovakia game. They did fantastically.
“I have faith in all my players. They are working incredibly hard in training. We can use the week to instill new impetus in preparation for the game. The break is not a disadvantage.”
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