The Germans celebrate a Mario Gomez goal. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Germany will be looking to reach their second consecutive final at the European championships when they face Italy in the semi-final stage of the competition in Warsaw on Friday morning (AEST). Although they eventually lost the decider to Spain in Vienna four years ago, Joachim Loew’s side is on course to go one better this time around, being the only side to have won all four of their matches in the tournament. Despite being drawn in the ‘group of death’, the Germans emerged from the initial stages with an unblemished record after defeating Portugal 1-0 and the Netherlands and Denmark 2-1 . They then swept past Greece with a 4-2 quarter-final win to book their place in the final four for the fourth major tournament in a row.
Bayern Munich hitman Mario Gomez has been their most potent attacking threat during the competition with three goals in four matches, while playmaker Mesut Ozil has pulled the strings in midfield, although he is yet to find the back of the net.
Despite winning only one of their four matches at this event in 90 minutes, Italy finds itself in the final four after extending its unbeaten record in competitive matches to fourteen games. After drawing their opening two matches against Spain and Croatia 1-1 , the Azzurri won through to the knockout stage with a 2-0 win over Ireland in their final group C match. In a tense quarter-final against England, the match ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes and also extra time, with Cesare Prandelli’s side eventually winning the penalty shootout 4-2.
Scoring goals has been the Italians problem in Poland and the Ukraine, having found the back of the net only four times. Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli should again start after making several chances against England although Prandelli may be forced to make other changes with Ignazio Abate, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele De Rossi also receiving treatment for injuries in the leadup to the game.
Germany boasts an impressive record in European Championship semi-finals, with five wins from the six that they have contested but they are yet to beat Italy in a competitive match. Seven games between the pair at European Championships and World Cups have resulted in three wins for Italy, while four matches have ended in a draw .
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