I could make this a very short preview—Germany is going to win this game. You’re probably looking for a bit more than that, though, and it’s hard to make a living writing six-word articles, so let’s look deeper. Rest assured, though, the ultimate conclusion won’t change.
The second and final semifinal will take place on Thursday, June 28, at 2:45 p.m. ET in Warsaw, Poland. Neither team has played any games in Warsaw, so the setting will be new to both. Germany shares a lot of border with Poland, though, so they should have a solid edge in crowd support.
Germany is the solid favorite in this one according to Bovada—and most everyone else in the world. The Germans are at -130 on the moneyline, with the draw at +250, and Italy far behind at +400. The point spread is at pick, with Germany at -300 and Italy at +235. The total is set at two, and the "over" is highly favored at -140 compared to +110 for the "under."
How they got here
Germany was never really at risk of losing against a hopelessly outclassed Greek squad, but for a while it was interesting. The Germans controlled the first half and went into the break up 1-0. Ten minutes into the second half, Greece started to entertain chances of pulling off a miracle when they tied it up. It quickly became clear, though, that it wasn’t meant to be—19 minutes later Germany was up 4-1 and Greece was thoroughly dispirited.
It was a total tour de force performance for a team that is incredibly talented and just as confident. The Germans have now won 15 straight competitive games, including the third-place game at the World Cup, all 10 of their qualification matches and four wins in this tournament—a feat never before accomplished.
A game that stands at 0-0 after 120 minutes of action might not seem like a great one, and in many cases it wouldn’t be. This time, though, it was a classic. Italy and England played a relentlessly high-paced game featuring plenty of opportunities and brilliant goalkeeping on both sides. It was chippy and exciting, and ultimately decided when Italy came out 4-2 on penalties.
The Italians were the hungrier team and controlled the tempo throughout, but without good luck and the stellar play of all-world keeper Gianluigi Buffon it wouldn’t have been enough. They were lucky to be playing a talented but flawed team from England. They will have to be much better here to have a chance against Germany.
For Italy, it is all about Buffon. He’s the most valuable keeper in the world of international soccer right now, and he’s capable on any given day of stealing a game. If he has a very good day then Italy stands a chance. If he is not as sharp as he can be, though, then his squad is in real trouble.
Germany counters that with a huge edge in depth, and the most confident player in the tournament right now in Mario Gomez. He’s red hot and has proven to be very tough to cover, and it’s hard to see how Italy will be able to shut him down throughout the whole game—or at least shut him down without opening up exposure in other ways.
Italy has little margin for error, and now they are without starting defender Christian Maggio as he received his second yellow card of the tournament in the quarterfinal. He’s not likely the difference between a win and a loss by himself, but his absence certainly doesn’t help.
Germany’s biggest issue is the potential for complacency. The Germans haven’t lost a real game in almost two years, they have a big talent advantage and they haven’t really had to worry at any point in this tournament. It would be easy for a team in that situation to lose focus or play with less than optimal intensity.
The team certainly hasn’t shown signs of that so far, and they appear to be very hungry to end their trend of coming close but not close enough in the big tournaments. Still, it’s the biggest issue looming here.
Predictions and betting picks
I said it before—Germany is going to win. Italy has been very feisty and tough in this tournament, but the only truly elite opponent they have played was Spain, and they played to a draw more because Spain was disinterested than because Italy was outstanding. Germany certainly will be interested in this game from the outset, and they have too much to throw at Italy. The moneyline is attractive here.