Former Germany striker Miroslav Klose claims the current Italy side is stronger than the one that knocked his team out of the last European Championship.
Germany’s all-time leading goal-scorer was a second-half substitute in their semi-final defeat to Italy at Euro 2012, when a brace from Mario Balotelli earned the Azzurri a 2-1 win in Warsaw.
But Klose, who retired from international football after winning the World Cup two years ago, believes Joachim Low’s side will face a stiffer test against Italy in the quarter-finals in Bordeaux on Saturday.
He told Kicker: “Italy is even stronger than in 2012. It’s an unbelievable team spirit. Even the bench players are celebrating the goals.
“They are very intense in their build-up play. Everybody knows what is happening and what the others will do. Everything is pre-planned.”
Italy knocked out holders Spain in the round of 16 thanks to goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle, and Klose has warned his countrymen of Italy’s strength in defence and their prowess on the flanks.
“Their wings are close to the lines, they make the pitch extremely wide to maximise the pitch,” he said.
“They are more efficient. The quality of their defence is breathtaking.”