Germany can be the biggest favorites in the world, and they are heading in to their Semifinal match with Italy, but the fact is that they’ve never beaten the Italians in a competitive match before, which makes this Euro 2012 semi between the two sides much more open than perceived on paper.
Last time Germany beat Italy was a friendly in Zurich, back in 1995. Since then it’s been draws and losses, a 0-0 in Euro 1996 and a very painful 206 World Cup Semifinal on German soil, with Del Piero and Grosso scoring in extra time to send Italy into the final and their fourth World Cup trophy.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Italy win. The last four teams are all worthy, but there were two clear favorites before the final four began. One of them took the long, tough road into the final, while Germany are expected by most to make it through. They haven’t lost in 15 consecutive competitive matches, scoring 51 goals in their last 20 games. No injury problems and a bench that has no problem stepping in for the usual starters without missing a beat.
For Italy, depth, especially attacking depth, isn’t a prerogative, although Alessandro Diamanti certainly showed against England he’s worthy of at least some time on the pitch. Mario Balotelli is looking for his second goal in the tournament while Antonio Cassano is having on and off days with his passing and shooting. I keep thinking it’s a miracle he’s actually here, playing in the Euro, after all that he’s been through this year.
Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Ignazio Abate are struggling to pass the fitness test so they can play in the match, while Prandelli ponders how to approach this match – The dominant approach, which is something of a 4-3-1-2, or use De Rossi, if healthy, as the third centre back, which means he’ll probably be giving up control in the midfield. With Germany, it doesn’t really matter who starts. The formation stays the same.
Prediction – I didn’t expect the first semifinal to end in a 0-0, but it did. Spain still went through, without much style. Germany will probably be the aggressor, and probably the winner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see penalty kicks in this one as well, but I feel that there’s enough good intention and talent on the pitch to give us a decision with the 120 minutes. Germany go through.