Euro 2012 Semifinals: Germany vs Italy In Battle Of Soccer Powers

2012 UEFA European Soccer Championship Semifinals
Germany vs Italy
Warsaw National Stadium – Warsaw, Poland
Thursday, June 28, 2012, 2:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Point Line: Germany – 1/2 -120 / Italy +1/2 Even
Total: Over 2 -140 / Under 2 +120
Three Way Line: Germany -123 / Italy +370 / Draw +235
Odds to advance to the Final: Germany -255 / Italy +205
Point Spread, Total, and Three Way include regulation and stoppage time only. Advance includes extra time and/ or shootout as well.

Italy takes on Germany in the semifinals of Euro 2012 Thursday in Warsaw. The winner will face either Spain or Portugal in Sunday's Championship game.

It is hard to believe Germany hasn’t won a major title since Euro 1996. They have come close recently. The Germans lost to Spain in both the final of Euro 2008, and the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup. Now, Germany looks to return to the finals of the Euro Cup as they take on Italy in the semifinals of Euro 2012 in Warsaw. The winner will face either Spain or Portugal in the championship game Sunday in Kyiv, Ukraine.

This is the 31st meeting between Italy and Germany. Italy holds a 14-9-7 advantage against Germany. The two teams played a memorable game in the 2006 World Cup semifinals in Berlin. The game was tied at 0 until Italy scored 2 very late goals to win 2-0 en route to beating France in the Championship game. They have played twice in the Euro Cup, both group stage draws in 1988 and 1996.

Italy is managed by Cesare Prandelli. A match fixing scandal just before Euro 2012 left doubt whether the Italians would even compete in the tournament. However, the Italian soccer federation decided to let the team compete. Italy had 1-1 draws against Croatia and Spain and needed to beat Ireland in the last match in Group C in order to advance. The Italians won 2-0 and clinched second in the group when Spain beat Croatia 1-0.

In the quarterfinals Italy was matched-up against England who won group D. The Italians dominated possession for the entire game, outshooting England 35-9 and holding a 64-36 possession percentage edge. However, English keeper Joe Hart made some great saves, and Italy hit the woodwork several times. The game ended up scoreless, and went into extra time. Neither team could score in extra time either, and it had to be decided in a penalty kick shootout. England took a 2-1 lead in PK’s after Riccardo Montolivo missed his kick wide left of the net, and Wayne Rooney buried his for England. However, Andrea Pirlo tied it up with a chip shot down the middle. Ashley Young and Ashley both missed their kicks for England. After Antonio Nocerino made his Italy was up 3-2. Allessandro Diamanti made his kick to give Italy the 4-2 win. It was the sixth straight time England had lost a shootout in major tournaments.

Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon has given up only 2 goals in 3 games so far at Euro 2012. He kept a clean sheet against an overmatched Ireland squad that didn’t test him very much. Against England, he made the saves he had to throughout the game and the PK’s.

Italy has a ton of talent, but a lot of divas as well. Talented striker Mario Balotelli is also temperamental and will fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. Against Ireland he came off the bench and scored a beautiful goal on a bicycle kick. Teammates had to cover his mouth so he wouldn’t yell at the manager for not starting him.¬† Prandelli switched from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-3-1-2 before the Ireland match. Midfielder Andrea Pirlo, and forwards¬†Antonio Di Natale, and Antonio Cassano can all score at any time.

Germany, managed by Joachim Low, won the group of death with a 1-0 win over Portugal and 2-1 wins over The Netherlands and Denmark. All four Group B teams were ranked in the top 10 in the FIFA rankings, making it even more impressive that Germany was the only team that won all three of it’s group matches. The Germans have won 15 straight competitive matches not counting friendlies.

Germany faced Group A runner-up Greece in the knockout round. Greece’s football team looked about as bad as the nation’s bleak economy. Germany scored late in the first half on a goal from Philipp Lahm to take a 1-0 lead, but they could have been up by 3 or 4 goals and probably should have been as much as dominated possession. There were some nervous moments when Greece tied up 10 minutes into the second half on a goal from Georgios Samaras. However Germany scored 3 straight goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose, and Marco Reus all scored for Germany in the rout. Dimitris Salpigidis scored on a late penalty kick for Greece to make the final 4-2. Germany outshot Greece 24-9, and held a 66-34 edge in possession. German coach Low made several adjustments to his line-up that made it seem like he was resting some of his starters against a far inferior Greek team.

German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has only allowed 4 goals in the tournament. He is a very good keeper but is sometimes overshadowed by the superstar German midfielders and forwards.

Germany will use their normal 4-2-3-1 attack. Chemistry will not be an issue as 7 of the 11 starters play together for Bayern Munich. Dynamic striker Mario Gomez already has 3 goals in the tournament, as does Klose. He will be helped out by creative playmaker Mesut Ozil, who has had a quiet tournament so far. Ozil did have 2 assists against Greece though. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller can also score from anywhere. Mats Hummels is one of the best defenders in the world. Schweinsteiger is questionable with an ankle injury.

Italy has had 2 fewer days rest as they played Sunday, and Germany played Friday. Plus, Italy played 120 minutes against England plus the stress of the Shootout, and had to travel from Kyiv to Warsaw. Germany stayed in Warsaw as their last game was also there. It might seem like Italy will be too tired to compete against a German team that has won 15 straight games. However, you shouldn’t count out Italy. The Italians are very deep and talented. They will look to frustrate the Germans and keep the ball in the midfield. Still, I think Germany wins a close 1-0 game, but Italy certainly has more than a puncher’s chance to pull off the upset.

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