Germany vs. Italy: What Die Mannschaft Must Do to Advance to Euro Final
Germany has been one of the most impressive teams in the 2012 European Championships, and will look to continue its dominance in the semifinals against Italy.
Italy is a world-class team, but it is not up to par with the abilities of the Germans. Having said that, the Azzurri are still a dangerous pairing for any side.
If Germany wants to advance to the final and face Spain, it will need to carry out a few tasks over the full 90 minutes.
Here is what needs to be done.
Italy is unlikely to be offensively-minded during the early stages of the match, and will do its best to keep things close in order to try to notch a late, deciding goal.
If the Germans can get an early goal, it will force Cesare Prandelli to push his back line and midfield forward. With the defense and midfield pushed up—even just a bit—Germany will be able to capitalize.
The German midfielders and forwards will have a field day against the Italian defense if the back line is not fortified. Joachim Low's club is too efficient and precise in their offensive game to not score if they are constantly attacking. An early goal will keep the Italians from playing the game that they want to.
Shut Down Andrea Pirlo
This might be the toughest thing for the Germans to succeed in doing. Andrea Pirlo is one of the best midfielders in the world and has time and again proved that he has a propensity for coming up big when his team needs him most.
Bastian Schweinsteiger's ankle injury is going to be a huge problem for the Germans, as he is one of the leaders of the club. That means Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira will have to make up for his shortcomings in the middle third.
Ozil and Khedira are certainly capable of outplaying Pirlo, but one false move could result in disaster. Philipp Lahm and company on the back line need to be aware of that, which they surely are.
If Pirlo starts the match on the right foot, Germany may have trouble with him all night.
Win the Possession Battle
Italy dominated the possession battle in its quarterfinal matchup against England, holding the ball for 64 percent of the match and rifling 20 shots on target.
If Germany lets anywhere near that amount of shots at Manuel Neuer, we won't be seeing a Spain-Germany final. Germany is at its best when running circles around the opposition. Making crisp, accurate passes amongst the midfielders to the forwards leads to countless German opportunities.
Ball control in this match will start with Ozil, Khedira and Schweinsteiger in the middle. For the Germans to have a high number of chances, the three midfielders must accurately work the ball up to Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez.
Which of these three is the most important?
Schweinsteiger made a pair of uncharacteristically poor passes against Greece. If he does that in the middle third against Pirlo and his teammates, it's going to lead to a counterattack opportunity.
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