Getting ready for the World Cup next summer means everything at this late stage in 2013 and a showdown between Italy and Germany on Friday, Nov. 15 will be a great preview match for two of the world's best squads.
Both Germany and Italy have high hopes going into next year. These two countries are both top contenders for the World Cup and could very well have what it takes to unseat the current World Cup champs, Spain.
The last time a match between the two occurred was back in June of 2012 when Italy took a 2-1 win over Germany in the semifinals of Euro 2012. In fact, the Italians have been victorious in three of the pair's last four meetings with a draw mixed in, so it's safe to say Germany has revenge on its mind going into this one.
Things won't get any easier for Germany's hopes of snapping that winless streak without forward Miroslav Klose, who, along with defender Per Mertesacker, will miss Friday's showdown, per Liam Prenderville of The Mirror.
Football Italia let us know that Klose will actually be out longer than just this match:
Lazio and Germany ace Miroslav Klose is set to miss this month’s internationals against Italy and England. http://t.co/QAHRKUGsxC— footballitalia (@footballitalia) November 11, 2013
That isn't the only story coming from this game, however. Let's break it down and find out all the important information for this exciting and highly-anticipated matchup.
When: Friday, Nov. 15 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Stadio San Siro, Milan, Italy
Watch: Univision Deportes and RAI Internazionale (Italian TV)
Where They Stand
Despite a lack of recent success against Italy, Germany has four wins and a draw in its last five matches, albeit against some lackluster opponents like Sweden, Ireland and Faroe Islands to name a few. Still, the German side comes into this contest with some wins under its belt and Germany has scored at least three goals in its last five matches.
Italy, on the other hand, hasn't fared as well. Two straight ties with Denmark and then Armenia have soured things a bit for the Italians, as they have garnered just two wins in their last five contests. Italy last lost in August to Argentina and hasn't seen a match in which its scored more than two goals in five matches.
Clearly Germany has a bit more momentum coming off past performances in this match and it'll be important for the Germans to carry that into this match against a tough and talented Italian squad.
Key Players to Watch
Mario Balotelli, Italy
A hole in Germany's defense with the absence of Mertesacker will be an enormous plus for the Italians, and that's especially true for star striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli has been sensational for the Italians in 2013 as he's netted four goals while also picking up an assist along the way. His last performance was in a substitution role and he was able to excel with a goal after coming on in the 53rd minute.
Italy hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire with its goal scoring recently, and combined with the fact that Germany is averaging three goals or more lately, Balotelli must find the back of the net in this match.
Exploiting a German defense that is already shorthanded will be vital if Italy hopes to keep up offensively in this contest.
Balotelli is the man to get that done and may have a bit more motivation for this contest seeing as how his playing time has been cut with his club, AC Milan, for various reasons, per Alan Wilson of The Mirror.
Mesut Ozil, Germany
With Klose absent, Germany will be without its top goal scorer against Italy. A tough task, no doubt, but Ozil is playing great right now and should be able to somewhat pick up the slack in the forward's absence.
For his club, Arsenal, Ozil's numbers are superb. The German has netted two goals and aided in another four in eight matches in the Premier League. For Germany, Ozil has played more of a setup role with two assists in two contests.
Ozil has the skills to attack, and that's something he'll have to do versus the Italians.
It isn't easy losing a talented player like Klose, but Ozil can fill the void. With his great ball control and field vision, Ozil will not only be a threat to score goals, but his ability to set his teammates up will help unlock the Italian defense and create easier chances to score for the Germans.
Germany has looked great on offense in recent matches, and while Ozil has been the key to that, he's even more important in Germany's matchup with Italy on Friday.
Prediction: Italy 3, Germany 2