Manuel Neuer refuses to count Germany as favourites ahead of their semi-final with Italy due to the rejuvenated spirit among their opponents.
The Germany keeper insisted that, despite common belief, his side do not have the upper hand and that the Italians are once again a tight group after the disappointment of the last World Cup, as well as the Scommessopoli controversy in the build-up to the current tournament.
“We are equal. The Azzurri have regained the team spirit lost at World Cup 2010,” Neuer told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I was certain that they would progress when I saw how they embraced each other before the penalties (against England). The atmosphere is electric again in the dressing room.”
Andrea Pirlo dinked a glorious spot-kick over Three Lions goalkeeper Joe Hart in the quarter-final clash, and Neuer admits he too would be powerless if the Juventus midfielder were to do it again on Thursday.
“His spot kick? You can’t say anything as long he scores. However, if he misses like that,” he said.
“We (goalkeepers) don’t like to be beaten that way, but everybody has his own way (to take penalties). It went well, Hart did not react.
“If he repeats it I would be careful, but the possibilities are incalculable. Maybe I prepare for the spoon and he puts it in the corner. The shooters have all the options; lucky them.”
Germany and Italy will go head-to-head for a place in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final when they meet in Warsaw on Thursday.