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|Euro 2012 Semi-Final Preview: Germany - Italy|
With one finalist already determined at Euro 2012, SoccerAnchor's Rick D'Andrea previews the clash between Germany and Italy for the other spot in Sunday's Final...
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Venue: National Stadium, Warsaw, Poland
Local Kick-off Time: 20:45
Germany come into this match having "rested" several key players against Greece in their quarter-final, played last Friday evening - which feels like an eternity ago. Joachim Loew is also expected to recall Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez for this clash.
Die Mannschaft have managed to recover vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, after picking up an ankle injury against the Ethniki, as well as yet-to-be-used midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
Several of Loew's down-the-pecking-order players such as Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle impressed versus Greece, and could get some game time, with Reus favoured due to his performance, mesmerizing the Greeks int he quarter-final. This could mean Mesut Ozil - having had a dsiappintment tournament thus far - could be left on the bench, or may make a second-half appearance - or vice-versa.
The tactician will use a 4-5-1 variation, especially since Schweinsteiger is ready to go, with Gomez preferred ahead of Miroslav Klose.
Having dominated England in their quarter-final clash, Italy managed to beat the Three Lions on penalties 4-2. The Azzurri failed to capitalise on converting the chances created in front of goal, as Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano could not score. And when Antonio Nocerino managed to put the ball in the back of the net in the 114th minute, the linesman chalked it off for offside - a correct decision.
Andrea Pirlo was the talking point of the the quarter-final match. not only because of his brilliance from the penalty spot - doing an Antonin Panenka and chipping Joe Hart - but because of his orchestrating abilities in midfield. The Juventus maestro led La Nazionale to have 64 per cent possession and make 744 successful passes. Pirlo himself made 154 successful passes throughout the match, and this was the second-highest tally since Giovanni van Bronckhorst for the Netherlands.
Giorgio Chiellini is also expected tor return into starting XI, overcoming the knock he received to his knee against Ireland, whilst Daniele De Rossi should start, despite revealing he had back soreness against the English after the match.
Cesare Prandelli is expected to use the 4-3-1-2 that was been employed against England, whilst a 3-5-2 may also be used, especially since Chiellini is back.
PLAYER TO WATCH: SAMI KHEDIRA
The Real Madrid has been the reason the three-time European Championship winners have gotten this far in the tournament conceding only four times.
The pivot/fulcrum role that he plays in Joachim Loew's line-up cannot be underestimated, and it has showed throughout the tournament.
Expected to man-mark Andrea Pirlo in this clash, the 25-year-old could have the toughest role on the ground, and should he succeed and keep the Juventus man at bay, it will almost secure his nation's place in the Final.
Having found the back of the net in the 61st minute against the Greeks, Khedira could also required to push higher up the pitch and possibly pinch another.
His relationship with Bastian Schweisteiger has been strong thus far, and another solid night's work between the duo will be vital for Die Mannschaft.
PREDICTION: Germany 1-2 Italy A.E.T.