Germany v Italy – Match Preview

Lukas Podolski says it’s time Germany ended their torrid record against Italy in tournament football as they battle for a place in the Euro 2012 final on Thursday evening.

Germany go into the game having failed to beat the Azzurri in seven previous tournament meetings with the last one coming in the semi finals of the 2006 World Cup as they scored two late goals in extra time on their way to becoming World Champions.

Having won four on the spin in Poland and Ukraine they are now favourites to win the tournament and Podolski is urging his teammates they need to live up to that tag if they are to beat Italy and give themselves a chance of winning their first major international trophy in 16-years.

“It’s the time to break that series,” Podolski said in an interview with Bild newspaper.

“Since 2006 we have improved enormously. Today we have a whole different philosophy and a different team. The Italians also know that.

“One thing is clear – we want to be in the final, so we have to beat the Italians. Therefore, this will hopefully be the end for Italy in this European Championship.”

Italy’s semi-final hero Andrea Pirlo expects Germany to pose a much stiffer test than England and is aware that he won’t be afforded the same amount of space in midfield to dictate play as he was on Sunday.

The 35-year-old rolled back the years in Kiev with a devastating performance capped off by an impudent penalty in the shootout but admits he will find it hard against the Germans expecting them to attack from kick off.

“Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England,” he said.

“This is the only way we can play. But unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.

“England played a very prudent and careful way. They were sitting back all the match, like Chelsea did in the Champions League final.

“They tried to keep that same shape. For them going to the penalty shoot-out was a good result.”

Team News

Bastian Schweinsteiger has been declared fit by Germany despite receiving treatment on an ankle injury while Joachim Low could recall Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller after they were rested against Greece in the quarter final.

Cesare Prandelli has doubts over Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate whilst Christian Maggio is suspended and could revert back to playing three in the defence because of that.

Key Players

Sami Khedira 

A mouthwatering battle with Andrea Pirlo awaits Khedira who will have to be at the top of his game to get the better of the Italy veteran. The Real Madrid midfielder has enjoyed a fine tournament linking up to great effect with Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger but will need to focus his attentions on stifling Pirlo’s influence.

Andrea Pirlo

If theres been a finer display of how midfield dominance at Euro 2012 then i’d like to here it. Pirlo took magnificent to entirely new levels against England discovering pockets of space invisible to the naked eye and defying gravity with some exquisite passing. Finding room to manoeuvre against Germany will be difficult but the 35-year-old has proved he is more than capable of doing so.

Prediction: 2-0