Euro 2012 Semi Finals: Keys for Italy to Upset Undefeated Germany

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Gianluigi Buffon of Italy saves a penalty 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

Germany has been unbeatable so far in Euro 2012, but Italy is one of few teams with the ability to pull the upset.

It starts with defense—something the Italians have been very good at in the tournament. In four matches, the team has only allowed two goals. They are also coming off consecutive shutouts against Ireland and England, the latter including extra time in a scoreless draw.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is one of the best players in the world at his position and he has been playing like it in this tournament. In addition, the rest of the defense has been relatively mistake-free.

This will be key when defending the offense of Germany. Not only do they have talented forwards in Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski, but midfielders that can make you pay as well. Even if Bastian Schweinsteiger does not play, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira will be able to fill his role admirably.

Germany has the ability to jump on any mistake the Italians make and turn it into a goal. Fortunately, Italy's defense has been solid. They do not necessarily have to be aggressive on the ball, they simply have to stay with a man and not allow him any room to run.

POZNAN, POLAND - JUNE 14:  Andrea Pirlo of Italy on the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Italy and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Poznan, Poland.  (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

On the offensive end, Italy has struggled a bit. They have the talent, but four goals in four games is usually not good enough for a team attempting to win the European Championship.

Forward Mario Balotelli was one of the leading scorers in the English Premier League this season, despite limited starts for Manchester City. In this tournament, however, he has struggled to find the back of the net. His one goal (which was a thing of beauty) came as a sub against Ireland.

The problem is his lack of patience. He is second in Euro 2012 with 21 shots, although only 12 have been on target. He is being aggressive when near the net and does not wait for the best chances to score.

Italy should play offense like Spain in the semifinals. The 2010 World Cup winners continue to pass the ball in the offensive zone as often as necessary until they get the shot they want. This will not only create better opportunities, but it will give Germany less time with the ball.

There is no doubt the Italians have the talent to pull off this kind of offense. Andrea Pirlo is still one of the best facilitators in the game and should be able to get good chances to Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. Even Alessandro Diamanti has seemed to inject life off the bench.

These teams are very close to a title. Italy defeated the Germans on the way to their 2006 World Cup and they would like to do it again in another major championship.

If they can keep their composure on defense and stay patient on offense, they will find themselves in a rematch with Spain in the finals of Euro 2012.