Germany vs Italy – Match preview and team news

Germany vs Italy will contest the second and last semi-final tonight, the winner knowing that they have the current World and European champions, Spain, waiting in the final. The Italians have had less time to prepare for their showdown with the Germans, only sealing their fate on Sunday after a grueling 120 minutes against England in which they finally won the game in a penalty shoot out. Germany made it here in grandiose fashion, beating Greece 4-2 in their most comfortable game of the tournament so far, after progressing through top of the so-called ‘group of death’ overcoming the likes of Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Italy would argue that their road to this game has been ridden with as many if not more obstacles than the Germans. After drawing with Spain and Croatia in their opening two games, they managed a 2-0 win against Ireland to set up a quarter-final against England. But, questions have been raised about the Italian’s fire power up front – there is no doubt about the quality they possess but there is something to be said for the lack of product so far in the tournament.

After 4 games, Italy have scored five times – two of which were against bottom of their group Ireland – and have struggled to convert chances into goals. Against England, for example, The Azzuri had 36 goal attempts, only 6 were on target and the game finished 0-0. Against Croatia they had 15 chances, 5 troubled the goalkeeper and only one went in – that being from a dead ball situation.

This is quite contrary to the Germans, who have dominated all of their games so far, earning them the tag of joint-favourites. Whilst they too have had a high number of shots, they have also converted their chances. Scoring 4 from 12 on target against Greece, 2 from 4 on target against Denmark, 2 from 5 against Holland and 1 from 3 against Portugal. This shows that Joachim Loew’s team are clinical in front of goal but they will have to be aware that Italy can create chances as well, courtesy especially of Andrea Pirlo.

The bad news for Italy is that they have a number of injury concerns heading into tonight. Giorgio Chiellini could miss out again along with Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate who are both concerns for Cesare Prandelli. Reports are suggesting that the Italian coach could opt for a return to the 3 man defense which started the tournament, with the added issue of right back Christian Maggio being suspended.

The Germans have been boosted by the declaration of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s fitness after struggling with an ankle injury. Loew is expected to recall Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller after he chose to rest them against the Greeks last week.

Despite recent form and stats, the game is far from over before the ball is kicked. Psychology plays a big part in modern football and the Italians will certainly have the edge in that department. In the five times that these two have met, the Italians have never lost. The last time the two met in a semi-final, Italy won 2-0 in extra time on their way to winning the World Cup in 2006 in Germany. No matter the winner, they both have an huge task in the final – facing a Spanish side who haven’t lost a competitive game since the opener of the 2010 World cup.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Germany v Italy

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