Germany v Italy - Euro 2012 Semi-final Match Preview
Italy and Germany occupy the second semi-final places. Tonight these two teams face each other for the chance of competing in the Euro 2012 final.
Joachim Low’s side have certainly been the most impressive side so far this tournament. Their path to the semi-final saw them breeze past Greece with a 4-2 win. Germany are the only team in the competition that can boast a 100% win ratio.
The Italians reached this stage following a 0-0 draw with England; this led to a 4-2 victory on penalties.
Ilkay Gündogan twisted his ankle in training at the weekend and is out for unknown period of time, though it is highly unlikely that he would play any part here anyway.
Perhaps more of a concern for the Germans is that Schweinsteiger has said he is also having problems with a recurring ankle injury that has not fully recovered. He has stated that he is fit to play but that it is affecting his game.
Coach Joachim Low may opt to tinker with his line-up again after completely overhauling his forward line for the quarter-final win over Greece.
Veteran striker Miroslav Klose might retain his place up front ahead of Mario Gomez, while midfielder Lars Bender may get the nod over Jerome Boateng at right-back.Elsewhere Podolski should return on the left, Reus may also have played himself into contention with a goal against Greece in the quarter-finals.
Cesare Prandelli could field an unchanged side from the one that dominated against England, though both Giorgio Chiellini and Thiago Motta could be back available from injury.
Christian Maggio is suspended having picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the quarter-finals, meaning Abate would continue at right-back, though both he and key midfielder Daniele De Rossi suffered muscular problems in the win over England.
If Chiellini is fit to play, injuries elsewhere could force Italy to revert to a 3-5-2, with Ogbonna another option at centre-back.
Here are my predicted line-ups for both sides & each team’s key player:
Germany will have been pleased to see England take Italy to extra time, already having an extra two days preparation over the Azzuri coming into Thursday’s game.
Low was able to rotate his front line against Greece so his side will certainly be more fresh coming into this tie, adding to their status as favourites to progress.
Italy created a few great chances against England but failed to capitalise and finishing their chances has been a real problem. Defensively they will put up a tough test for the German’s but keeping them at bay for 90 minutes could prove a bridge too far.
Pirlo will no doubt cause a threat to the Germans, but the talent in Low’s side will be enough to counter this.