Germany vs. Italy: Improvements Italians Must Make to Pull Upset

Oliver ThomasContributor IJune 26, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24:  Mario Balotelli of Italy walks towards the penalty spot in the shootout during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

At 2:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Germany and Italy will clash in the semifinal stage of the UEFA Euro 2012.

The German team will look to dismantle their foes who have slighted them in every major tournament, cites Nesha Starcevic of the Associated Press (H/T Calgary Herald). Meanwhile, the Italian squad is just trying to hold on against their heavily favored opponent.

In order for the Italians to pull off an upset, there are three phases of the game which must be tightened: composure, goal scoring efficiency and possession control.


Mental Toughness

For Italy, mental frustration has hindered their performance in the tournament thus far.

In four tournament games, the Italians have been on the receiving end of 11 yellow cards. No red cards have been handed out, however, the aggressive play will nip them in the bud sooner or later. 

Aside from the yellow cards, Italy has also committed 60 fouls. This lack of focus has given their competition an inherited advantage. If the Italians want to defeat the Germans, they must exert toughness without showcasing stupidity.

With characters like Mario Balotelli on the field, maintaining composure is like driving with a flat tire—eventually the journey will get out of control. Playing smart, however, will be key for the Italians from here on out.

KRAKOW, POLAND - JUNE 25:  Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli during a training session at Marshal Józef Pilsudski Stadium on June 25, 2012 in Krakow, Poland.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Granted, it isn't Balotelli who was suspended for this semifinal match; it is Christian Maggio after notching yellow cards versus both Spain and England.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Germany. The Germans have been clean throughout their fixtures. The team has tallied three yellow cards and 36 fouls—just a fraction of Italy's undisciplined decisions.

Against the Germans, Italy must keep it clean just to stay in stride.


Goal Scoring

It's easier said than done, but the Italians must translate shots on goal to goals scored.

In four matches, Italy has amassed only four goals—that won't fare well against the Germans. The Italians have racked up 87 goal attempts, 50 of which were on target. Yet, only four attempts went past the keeper.

On the other hand, the Germans have shot less and scored more. On 60 attempts, Germany has scored nine goals. With less attempts on target, they've accomplished more.

Italy must be sure that the quality of their looks outweighs the quantity of their looks. It won't be an easy feat, but the Italians could take a page out of Germany's book in order to win.

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24:  Mario Balotelli of Italy shoots towards goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images


Ball Control

The Italians lack the explosiveness that Germany possess. Consequently, their play-style is quite different. Italy knows that if they control the ball, they control the game.

No Italian player has scored more than one goal this tournament, suggesting that the offense is taking a wait-and-see approach to the pitch. Every forward is getting an equal share, but no front-runner has emerged to take the critical shots.

If the Italians are to outlast the Germans, then holding onto possession will take the pressure off the defense and allow for a low scoring match. The last thing that Italy wants to do is let the Germans turn it into a track meet.



Italy is going up against their toughest challenge yet. But if the team can zero in on their mental errors, take less questionable shots and keep possession, the Germans could be in trouble.

The winner will move onto the finals against either Spain or Portugal.