National Stadium, Warsaw Thursday 28th of June Kick-off 20:45 CET
Two topics have been used to describe the semi-final clash between the much fancied Germans, and the England slaying Italians, and those are revenge and fear.
With two days fewer rest than the Germans after the penalty shoot-out with England the Italian team is confident in their ability to beat the Joquim Loes German team pointing to their past record when playing Germany. Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo says: “They are afraid of us – we are at the level of Spain”.
Only goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Pirlo are left from the team that defeated Germany 2-0 to reach the World Cup final in 2006.
German striker Miroslav Klose calls that night “traumatic” with Captain Philip Lahm saying: “of course we still have that [match] in our minds”. Coach Joachim who was the assistant to Jürgen Klinsmann during that game says: “In football there is no such thing as revenge. The past plays absolutely no role for us or for our young players who may know things only from history.”
German will have to bring their “A-Game” and not give Pirlo as much time on the ball as England did allowing the 33-year-old Juventus playmaker to string together 117 passes which was more than all the three lions strikers combined.
German team captain Lahm is determined that Germany are going to see off Italy, and play Spain in the Final saying: “As a team we’re growing in confidence. We’re getting stronger and stronger as we progress.
“Of course, Italy carry a threat. Pirlo is having a great tournament and is at the heart of everything good about Italy.
“It’s important we address the threat and limit the time he has on the ball. And Balotelli is very dangerous if he’s given time and space.
“But, as ever, we have left nothing to chance. Our preparations have been meticulous; we have taken everything into account, even practising penalties at every opportunity, if they’re required.”
When asked about the Germans being favourites Lahm added: “Naturally people will expect us to win — but we are accustomed to these expectations.
“Germany would not be Germany if there wasn’t pressure. But we have always thrived in this situation.
“Our biggest challenge at this tournament still awaits us if we reach the final.
“But this is a team that will deal with anything that is thrown at us.
“We are on course to make history and we are in no mood to disappoint.”
When speaking of Italy chances of reaching the final Rome, and Italian midfielder Daniele de Rossi said it is not only Mario Balotelli they have to look out for but also Andrea Pirlo.
“He has been sensational in this tournament and raises his game to the next level the closer we get to the final.
“England found him impossible to mark, they were all over the place. He controlled every aspect of the game.
“It’s his form that is breathing life into the Italian side. With Pirlo in our team we are taking enormous confidence on to the field.
“And unless Germany find a way of stopping him, Italy will progress.”
Nonetheless De Rossi, who wins his 77th cap, believes Italy need to be more clinical in attack to win the game.
He added: “We can’t afford to waste chances like we did against England. The game should never have gone to penalties.
“And the confidence drains out of you when it reaches a climax like that. You can practise penalties all day but under pressure, in a red-hot atmosphere, it’s completely different.
“Only Pirlo had the coolness to take a penalty with such calmness — the rest was left to chance. But it would have been a massive injustice if we had gone out.
“We have to make our chances count. We cannot afford to be so charitable against Germany.”
“People expect Italian teams to defend and build slowly but we have been anything other than predictable.
“We have played quite open when the chance presents itself. Germany are a big threat. They are a side in the ascendancy and we are not taking anything for granted.
“We know we will have to be at our best to beat them. But we haven’t come this far to go out now.
“Before the tournament we could only dream about reaching the final. Now we are just 90 minutes away.”
Germany have the inform team, while history favours the Italians. My verdict for the match is that the Germans will come out firing not wanting the match to go to penalties as it did with Portugal and Spain.
My predictions Germany win 3-1.