Germany Euro 2012 Focus - Löw with selection headaches ahead of semi-final clash with Italy
Germany go into Thursday’s Euro 2012 semi-final looking to end their Italian jinx. Die Mannschaft have never beaten Italy in a competitive fixture, having drawn four and lost three against the Azzurri in tournament matches. Their last meeting was the World Cup semi in 2006, with the Azzurri winning 2-0 in extra time.
Despite this, Joachim Löw was relaxed at a press conference about the record: "No game has anything to say to us. Not the old ones and not the one in 2006. 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."
This point was reinforced by striker Miroslav Klose: "I think it is silly to talk about a mental block [against Italy]. Yes it was a trauma [in 2006]. It lasted a bit but now it is gone. This was six years ago and we have a different team and I am convinced we will do things differently."
Germany will be boosted by the news that influential midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has overcome injury doubts and declared himself fit, especially as his potential replacement Ilkay Gündogan is a minor doubt after picking up a knock in training. Also, whilst Löw played down the importance of the quarter-finals, Germany have had two extra days rest over Italy who’s match against England went to extra time and penalties. This may make a difference later in the match, particularly if there is extra time.
Löw may have given himself a selection headache. Against Greece the Coach changed his whole front three, a bold move but one that paid dividends with Die Mannschaft coming through 4-2 winners. Löw could keep the team unchanged, with the experienced Klose leading the attack, ably supported by Marco Reus and André Schűrrle. He could also revert to the forward line led by joint top-scorer Mario Gomez that saw them win each Group game.
Reus certainly shone against Greece, scoring a goal in the process, and may well oust Thomas Műller from the starting line-up on the right. Both were on the pitch at the same time against the Greeks however, with Műller playing on the left when coming on for Schűrrle, and this is another option. Perhaps more likely, Löw will opt for the experienced Lucas Podolski on the left over the other two, leaving them on the bench with Toni Kroos and Mario Göetze. Whichever combination prevails, the Coach has a talented pool of attacking options to pick from.
The three midfielders who seem assured of a place are Schweinsteiger and the two Real Madrid players, Sami Khedira - who scored with a lovely volley against Greece - and Mesut Őzil, who’s influence appears to have grown as the tournament has progressed. In defence, there are unlikely to be any changes to a back line that has played together in three out of the four games so far, though Löw, may be wary after the two goals conceded against Greece.
This should be a close match against the Azzurri, and extra time may not be a surprise, but the sheer depth of talent in this German squad should see them to the final.
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