27th June 2012
Stakes will be high when European giants Germany and Italy square off in the Euro 2012 semi-final, but with both sides reaching this stage thanks to attack-minded style we should see an enthralling encounter at National Stadium in Warsaw. Football pundits may see Germany as the favourites, but one should know better than to write off the Azzurri, especially as they are unbeaten in last six meetings with die Mannschaft at major tournaments.
Revenge will be the order of the day when Germany tackle Italy in the European Championship semi-finals as it was the Azzurri who prevented die Mannschaft from fulfilling their potential at major tournaments on more than one occasion. Joachim Low’s side may have won all four games at the Euro 2012, but that doesn’t mean they will have an easy job in the semi-finals, even if they will have had two days of rest more than their opponents. Germany have been pretty ruthless so far, as they needed just a couple of chances to score in most of the games, although their build-up play has left a lot to be desired. While the back line consisting of Bayern Munich trip and impressive Mats Hummels has been on top of their game most of the time, the attacking trio of Muller, Gomez and Podolski has largely struggled to find their game, and the team looked much better when Reus, Klose and Schurrle took their places. Boss Joachim Low faces a real selection headache after the back-up attackers performed so well in the quarter-final against Greece, whereas Bastian Schweinsteiger’s ankle injury is creating additional problems.
Nurturing defence-minded tactics that had brought Azzurri so much success in the past, previous Italy coaches often overlooked attacking talent in favour of players with more defensive characteristics, and such an approach has made this national team very boring to watch. Cesare Prandelli was the first boss brave enough to take full advantage of the attacking potential at his disposal, with Italy’s positive tactics one of the reasons for their impressive showings at the Euro 2012. After doing well to progress from the very difficult group, the Azzurri taught England a real lesson in football in the quarter-finals and kept their nerve to win the tie on penalties, even if they deserved to win by a big margin in regular time. Italy’s recent performances showed that this team have got everything needed to go all the way at the Euro 2012, with team spirit, individual quality, experience and ability to thrive under pressure just some of the things that should be taken into account. It is now perfectly clear that Azzurri are playing with a lot of confidence and when that is the case they are virtually unstoppable. Christian Maggio’s suspension has created problems at the back, especially as Giorgio Chiellini, Ignazio Abate and Daniele De Rossi are all doubtful, but Cesare Prandelli do seem to have big enough squad to cope.
While Germany remain one of the main candidates for the trophy, I cannot help but feel that Italy have what it takes to take this game at least to the extra time. Given that we are likely to see a very close encounter, the odds offered on Azzurri not to lose in regular time look pretty tempting to me.
Verdict: Double chance on Italy
Best Odds: 19/20