After defeating England in a shootout, Italy will move forward to face Germany in the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Germany certainly enters the match as the favorites, as they boast a flawless 3-0 record during group play and have scored nine goals already.
That is not the case for their opponents, however. The Italians already have two draws during the tournament and had to go to a shootout after a 0-0 draw in regulation.
The Italian defense will certainly play a crucial role if they want to slow down the Germans, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to stop this juggernaut.
Where: National Stadium, Poland
When: Thursday, June 28 2:45 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3
Players to Watch
Although the Germans feature Mario Gomez, who has found the net three times during the tournament, the most important player this match may be Mesut Özil.
Özil has three assists thus far and will look to improve on that number when these two teams match up. He will be decisive to the outcome of this game.
With the Italian's strong style of defense, Özil will be counted on to control the ball and find passing lanes through the daunting defense.
If he can find success on Thursday, the Germans will be on their way to final.
Özil has had success in big moments as well, after he starred at the 2010 World Cup.
The Italians have surrendered only two goals this tournament, and with a strong performance from Özil, Germany will look to raise that number significantly.
As for Italy, history is on their side, as they have never lost to Germany in a competitive game, notching three wins and four draws, according to Yahoo.
This is a different German team they will face however, as they are currently riding a 15-game winning streak.
Andrea Pirlo will play the most important role for the Italians, as he will be their primary playmaker come Thursday.
In their 4-4-2 diamond formation, Pirlo will occupy the “regista” position, and will be counted on to make crisp passes to set up teammates.
In the quarterfinal match against England, Pirlo played a pivotal role as he completed 114 passes while receiving 126 from his squad.
With the Germans pressing style of play, Pirlo will certainly need to make quick decisions in order to be effective.
If he can manage the game and can keep the German attack at bay with solid passes, Italy will have a good chance to upset the favored Germans.
Germany 2—Italy 0
Germany will simply be too much for the Italians to handle on defense. With Gomez and Özil making their presence felt on offense, the Germans will make quick work of Italy.
The Italians have had trouble scoring during Euro 2012 and without a reliable scoring option, the Germans will seemingly wear them down.
Furthermore, the Germans have had two more days of rest than their counterparts and the health of some Italy players may be in question.
Both Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate were removed at the end of the England match due to muscle injuries, and Italy will need their squad healthy in order to compete with the Germans.
Germany is simply too much for Italy this round. Look for the Germans to advance to the Euro 2012 finals.