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What a mouth watering fixture for the neutral. Italy put Spain to the sword knocking them out in the previous round. Germany are yet to concede a goal in this years European Championship. One thing that is guaranteed is that one of these teams will be going home after this match.
Germany on the other hand have seemingly breezed their way into the quarter-finals if you are just looking at their results. Only Poland have managed to stop this German team from scoring in this tournament. Mario Gómez has offered Germany a different kind of threat since being called into the starting XI and has provided two goals to repay the opportunity.
To get to the quarter-final Germany had to beat Slovakia, which they did in comfortable fashion. Jerome Boateng opened the scoring with his first international goal, and what a goal it was. A Toni Kroos corner was cleared as far as the edge of the box, where the ball dropped to Boateng. He showed great technique to keep the ball low and kept the Slovakian keeper away from the ball with a fortunate touch off the defenders toe.
The Germans could have made it two after 13 minutes when Martin Škrtel pushed Mario Gómez in the back while contesting a header, giving away in a penalty. Mesut Özil stepped up and placed it to keeper Matúš Kozáčik’s left hand side, Kozáčik anticipated the direction of the ball and was able to parry the ball away. Manuel Neuer was forced into a save by a Juraj Kucka header, where he palmed the ball over for a corner but that was as pretty much as close as the Slovakians got to scoring.
Just before half-time, Julian Draxler was the creator for Mario Gómez as he poked a low cross from the left into the net after getting goal side of the defender. Draxler made an impact again but this time grabbing himself a goal from another Toni Kroos corner. The ball was played to Mats Hummels who was just outside of the 6-yard box and Draxler was able to swing his right foot at it from around head height.
Image courtesy of WhoScored.com
Italy have had an outstanding tournament so far and will be looking to take the scalp of World Champions Germany to make it to the semi-finals. At the start of the tournament Italy were disregarded as potential winners, but performances so far hint at their potential to do so. They just have the small task of seeing Germany away to make the semi-final.
One of Italy’s star men has been Giorgio Chellini and it was the defender who bagged the first goal against Spain. The goal came from an Italian free kick that was parried by David De Gea. The ball fell into the path of Emanuele Giaccherini who managed to get the ball to Chiellini to tap in before De Gea made the tackle. Chiellini or Italy will not mind the scrappiness of the goal, especially now that it set them up to reach the quarter-final.
The nail was added into the Spanish coffin when Graziano Pellè found the net in the 91st minute of injury time. Lorenzo Insigne found Mateo Darmian, with a ball across field, who took it into the box. Pellè made a run off the shoulder of Pedro as the ball was played off a Sergio Ramos stud only to be finished with great volley past De Gea.
As good as the Italian team performances have been, credit must be given to Antonio Conte. His tactics during this European Championship have the spot on to get his team the results they need when they need it. The obvious exception is the Republic of Ireland match, where he rested a few key players against a team needing a win. Chelsea fans should be excited by the thought of Conte taking the helm at the end of Italy’s tournament. If not for the tactical knowledge he brings with him but for the intensity he demands from his players.
This is a tough one to call, both teams have proven their defensive abilities in this tournament. The score line will be low, if there are any goals at all. Italy are Germany’s bogey team having never lost to them in a major tournament. Despite both teams stellar defences, neither side are poor up front. Italy had more chances than Spain in their last match and have scored 5 goals in the tournament so far, even putting two passed a surprised Belgium. Germany have scored 6 goals in their four matches so far and have looked progressively better in each match they have played.
Germany to progress to the semi-finals.