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Zoff: Italy can oust Germany

SoccerNews in European Championships, Serie A 26 Jun 2012

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Dino Zoff said Italy have a great chance of beating Germany in their upcoming Euro 2012 semi-final clash.

The 70-year-old, who won the European Championship in 1968, experienced the greatest moment of his international career in 1982 when he captained Italy to World Cup success with a 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final.

Zoff was full of praise for Joachim Loew’s squad, in particular striker Mario Gomez, but said Cesare Prandelli’s team have proven they are strong enough to surprise the tournament favourites and reach the final.

“Italy have a great chance to progress further at this tournament,” Zoff told bundesliga.de.

“Germany will have to watch out. The Azzurri are a strong inventive side. They can cause anybody problems, as they showed clearly once more against England.

“Germany are a well-balanced team with no weaknesses. Mario Gomez has impressed me so far. He’s a great player.

“They’ve delivered positive performances throughout. The only exception in my opinion was the game against Portugal. They came under more pressure there than against their other opponents.”

In addition to their triumph in 1982, Italy also broke German hearts with an extra-time victory in the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.

And the former Juventus goalkeeper said the experience of Gianluigi Buffon will be key to his nation’s fortunes at Euro 2012 and has backed the consistent selection of temperamental striker Mario Balotelli.

“Buffon, the goalkeeper and captain, all his experience came to the fore in the penalty shoot-out against England,” Zoff said.

“Those are the moments when the whole team’s fate rests on the goalkeeper’s shoulders. But Buffon knows what it means to take responsibility.

“Balotelli is a fine striker, his performances are indisputably excellent. It’s good that Prandelli is playing him so often.”

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