Germany has never beaten Italy in a major tournament. Tomorrow’s semifinal will mark the 31st time that the two sides have met in their storied pasts. The series between the two teams goes back to New Years Day 1923, when Italy came out victorious over their West German counterparts 3-1. History will be on the Italians' side tomorrow, as they hold a 14-8-7 record against the Germans.
Thursday’s semifinal marks the eighth time Italy and Germany have played at either the World Cup or the European Championships, and Germany will be looking for their first win against the Azzurri (0-4-3) in a meaningful game.
As you watch whether Germany can make history tomorrow, here are the 10 greatest games that Italy and Germany have played.
Gerd Muller's two goals against Italy in 1970 added to his legend.
In what many consider the “Game of the Century,” Italy defeated West Germany 4-3 in the 1970 World Cup semifinal.
After leading most of the game, Italy looked set for a World Cup Final date with Brazil. But West Germany had other ideas. In second half stoppage time, German defender Karl-Heinz Schnellinger tied the match with a brilliant strike, sending the German fans into a frenzy and the game into extra time.
From then on, there was no shortage of goals, as the teams combined for five goals in the period. Legendary German footballer Gerd Muller had two goals in the extra period, but it was a decisive goal from Giovanni Rivera in the 111th minute that secured the win for the Italians.
While Italy would go on to the Final and lose to Brazil 4-1, their semifinal clash against the Germans set the stage for memorable Italy-Germany matches in the future.
Grosso scored four goals for Italy in his 48 international caps, but none bigger than his strike against Jens Lehman in the 2006 World Cup.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s German side made a great run into the semifinals of the World Cup in 2006, only to see their efforts thwarted by a stronger Italian squad. After a scoreless 90 minutes, where both teams had their chances, Italy scored two late in extra time to secure their place in the World Cup Final against France.
The game looked to be headed to a penalty shootout after German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved a dangerous Andrea Pirlo shot late in extra time. After the Germans cleared the ensuing corner, Italy moved back up the field and found the back of the net off the left foot of Fabio Grosso. Only two minutes later, Italy sealed Germany’s fate, as Alessandro Del Piero put another past Lehmann to give the Italians the 2-0 win.
Rossi scored four goals for Italy during the 1982 World Cup, including one in the win over West Germany in the Final.
Fielding one of their best squads since the 1938 World Cup, Italy came into the 1982 World Cup as one of the favorites to win. The Azzurri did not disappoint.
After struggling early in the tournament with three draws in the group stage, Italy beat Brazil and Argentina in the second round to advance to the semifinal round against Poland. A 2-0 win over Poland meant that West Germany was the only team standing in their way of a World Cup Championship.
Germany came into the final after finishing top of their group early on and then taking down Northern Ireland, Austria and France in the playoff stages. The Germans sought revenge in the final against Italy from their 1970 semifinal loss, but once again, history was on their side as they fell short, again, to the Italians, 3-1.
The win gave Italy their first title since 1938 and saw their top scorer, Paolo Rossi, earn Player of the Tournament.
Mancini's goal gave the Italians the lead...for all of three minutes.
The 1988 European Championships saw the two favorites, Germany and Italy, paired together in the same group. In the first match of the group stage, the two legendary sides tied 1-1 in their game in Dusseldorf. Italy opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with a goal from current Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, but the Germans equalized three minutes later with a goal from Andreas Brehme.
Still, both teams made it to the semifinal stage, but both were upset. Italy lost to the Soviet Union 2-0, and host West Germany fell to the eventual champions, the Netherlands 2-1.
The first World Cup meeting between the two sides was in 1962 in Santiago, Chile.
The first group game was a defensive struggle, which saw the two teams play to a scoreless draw. West Germany went on to win the group after victories over Switzerland and Chile. Italy finished third, losing to Chile and defeating Switzerland. West Germany bowed out in the first round to Yugoslavia, 1-0.
The two storied teams played to yet another scoreless draw in 1978.
The third World Cup meeting between the two sides resulted in a scoreless draw in the second round of the tournament. Italy won their first three games en route to taking all nine points in the group stage. West Germany, the defending World Cup Champions, got off to a slow start after winning one and drawing two in their opening group.
The two met in the second round of the competition. The two sides drew 0-0 in their second round matchup, making this the second time West Germany and Italy played to a scoreless draw in a World Cup. Italy went on to the third place and lost 2-1 to Brazil, while Germany went home, wondering if they were ever going to get the best of Italy in a major tournament.
Another scoreless draw was the result in the 1996 European Championship Group Stage meeting.
In 1996, the two sides were paired in the same group for the second time in three European Championships. The Germans the favorites to win the tournament and were poised to beat Italy in the final game of the group stages.
Germany was already a lock for the knockout stages after two wins in their first two games against Czech Republic and Russia. Italy needed a win against the Germans to advance.
The two sides played to a scoreless draw in England, and Italy was knocked out of the tournament after failing to earn the max amount of points. So while the Germans moved on and the Italians went home, the Italian record over Germany remained intact.
So, while Germany has never beaten Italy in a major competition, there have been some other significant games played between these two nations that could have a bearing on tomorrow's historic matchup.
This friendly in June, 1995 marks the last time Germany defeated Italy in a game.
This game was played in Zurich and was won 2-0 by the Germans in a celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the Swiss Football Federation. Given the rare nature of the win, although the game itself didn’t mean much, many of the German players and coaches have used this game as a benchmark heading into tomorrow’s contest.
Klose put the Germans up early, but Italy battled back for the tie.
In their first meeting since the 2006 World Cup semifinal match, Germany and Italy met in a friendly on February 9, 2011 in Dortmund.
The Germans got on the board first when Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller teamed up to find Miroslav Klose open in the box in the 16th minute. The game continued to go back and forth until Italy found an opening in the German defense and took advantage. Italian defender Domenico Criscito played a perfect ball through to Giuseppe Rossi, who put the Azzurri level in the 80th minute.
The game ended 1-1 and spoiled the German revenge party.
History between the two rivals doesn’t only fall on the men’s side.
Seven years after playing their first international match, the West German women’s team qualified for the 1989 European Championships, which they hosted. After making it through the group stage, the Germans met Italy in the semifinal. The match against Italy was significant because it marked the first time a women’s international soccer game was broadcast live on German television.
The game came down to a penalty shootout, and the Germans upset the Italians. The hero for the Germans was goalkeeper Marion Isbert, who saved three Italian penalties and scored the winning one herself.
The Germans went on to beat the favorites, Norway, in the vinals 4-1 for their first international title.
Will this also be a part of the German’s motivation? Only tomorrow will tell.