Euro 2012: Semi-Final Preview: Germany vs Italy

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Euro 2012 Preview: Germany vs Italy
Warsaw, Jun 27: The National Stadium in Warsaw is set to host its last match of Euro 2012 as an in-form Germany side will battle against dark horses Italy in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Die Manschafft have failed to win in seven competitive fixtures against the Azzurri with four draws and three losses while the Italians have been the better side in the past including wins in the 2006 World Cup semi-final in Germany and the 1982 World Cup final.

With 100 percent results in qualifying prior to the tournament and four wins in a row, Joachim Lowe's men are the team to beat at Euro 2012. But the Germans have won five of their six UEFA European Championship semi-finals, however, none of them have been against Italy.

The three time European Champions will look to end their Italian jinx after being consistent with a display of direct attacking tactics. 'Jogi' Lowe has opted for the youngest German side ever to play in a major tournament, but his young guns have shown the desire and talent to be entitled the most impressive side in Euro 2012.

The Azzurri, however, managed to hold holders Spain in their opening draw in the Group stage. Another draw against Croatia meant they had to win against Ireland, which they did ending second to Spain in the table.

Despite their poor show against Spain and Croatia, Prandelli's men are confident after dominating against the hapless England side even though the match ended in penalties. Brilliant passing with an unbreakable defence have made the dark horses serious contenders at Euro 2012.

But in terms of experience in major tournaments the Italians have a slight edge over the Germans. The side who managed to halt Spain both in front of goal and in ball possession can certainly cause frustration in the minds of young German guns, who at times can also be patient but lack technique in front of goal and vulnerable in defence.

The Azzurri play-maker Andrea Pirlo who is the heart and engine of the Italian midfield showed his class and temperament against England. With two assists and a goal so far in the tournament, the Germans will have to stop the 33-year old Juventus veteran from making dazzling passes and creating goal-scoring chances.

The Manschafft have their own creative playmaker in Mesut Ozil who plays in and around the penalty zone, and can also be a major threat for the Italian back-line along with Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle who bombarded the Greek defence during the quarter-final.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was declared fit after suffering a minor injury while Lars Bender and Miroslav Klose are likely to get the nod ahead of Jerome Boateng and Mario Gomez, who scored three goals so far.

Prandelli is likely to go with four at the back against the attacking German side. But despite defender Giorgio Chiellini's recovery from injury, the Italians are likely to retain the same defensive line which blocked the Three Lions.

Moreover, the Italian boss is sweating over the fitness of Daniele De Rossi, who along with Pirlo played a vital role in midfield against England, while Christian Maggio is suspended. Thiago Motta returned to training after recovering from a thigh problem, is likely to replace Riccardo Montolivo.

The Italians have a unique class and technique especially in big games such as this, they tend to defend till the end as well as maintain possession in their half while the Germans have only one thing in mind which is attack, but they cannot stop with a few goals because their defensive mix-ups have cost them a few goals.

Probable Line-up:

Germany: Neuer-Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm-Khedira, Schweinsteiger-Reus, Ozil, Podolski-Klose

Italy: Buffon-Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti-Marchisio, Pirlo, Nocerino-Motta-Balotelli, Cassano

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