Both sides practice contrasting philosophies which are equally effective, but only one can survive at Euro 2016…
Germany and Italy make for a tasting pairing on any day. Add the context of the Quarterfinals of the European Championship and the stakes in this ‘winner takes all’ contest soar even higher. They have been two of the tournament’s most consistent and impressive sides and it may be argued, that this clash deserves bigger billing than a game in the last eight. However, this is the way the cards have fallen and so these two must battle it out, knowing that for only one will the dream of another continental success live on.
One aspect that makes this clash so mouth-watering is the impressive international pedigree the Azzurri and Die Mannschaft bring to the table. With that said, it has been a long time since either of them tasted continental success. Germany’s last triumph came at Euro 96, while the Italians’ only win came way back in 1968. Therefore, defeat in tonight’s clash will be a source of great disappointment and frustration for either.
History aside the two teams’ current state and philosophies also provide for fascinating study. Germany romped their way to the world title at Brazil 2014, while the men from Rome suffered the ignominy of a group stage exit. With an undoubtedly aging squad shone of its previously familiar stardust Italy were not among the favourites for many. But, Antonio Conte’s men have, as expected, shown the resilience and character that has defined them for generations. For Germany, France 2016 is about the competition of a cycle. As reigning world champions a European crown would reaffirm their continued doming of world football.
Italy have been very impressive so far without being spectacular. Their two major wins against Belgium and Spain displayed different bows to their arrow. The game against the Belgians saw them narrow the pitch allowing their opposition to have the ball until they were crowded out in the final third, In contrast, their display against Spain was all about the high press denying their opponents time on the ball and productive possession. As in those games, Germany will likely dominate the ball in this one and Gli Azzurri will have to make effective use of pacey counter-attacks to break the Germans’ resolute backline.
Their opponents have been at their tournament best. Getting better from game to game and peaking at the right time. Joachim Löw will expect his star-studded midfield and forward line to give his side the edge.
As astonishing as it may sound Germany have never beaten Italy at a major international tournament and not to forget it was the Italians who ended Germany’s quest for a World Cup win on home soil by dumping them out in 2006. In theory, these two stats should give Italy the edge. However, the Germans remain the team to beat and they will start as marginal favourites.
Both these teams are great frontrunners. Germany are yet to concede a goal having kept four clean sheets in their four games, while Italy have shipped just one. So, like in most big games the first goal with be key here.
All said and done though, the array of talent on show in this contest almost guarantees, that no matter what they are, it will be worth cancelling all your Saturday night plans.
Preview by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict. You can follow him on Twitter.