Tonight sees the third quarter final of Euro 2016 and with one Semi Final already decided it’s time for the lower half of the draw to make their bids for a spot in the final four. World Champions Germany take on Euro 2012 finalists Italy and we should be in for something of a treat
This competition has been blown wide open thanks to Italy’s win over Spain in the Quarter Finals. Antonio Conte’s side delivered a tactical masterclass on Monday evening as they exacted revenge for their 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final of the 2012 edition.
Italy for many were flying under the radar and weren’t expected this tournament but if they can clear this hurdle they will surely be the favourites. The fact that Wales sensationally beat Belgium last night will also make their cause a lot easier but at this point of the tournament you can rule absolutely no-one out
Italy may not have the superstars of former squads but they are side that is playing with purpose and not only that a well drilled system (Roy Hodgson take note). The fact that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has his three Juventus teammates playing in front of him is a masterstroke as that defensive unit bar Robbie Brady’s late header has been impenetrable
If Italy’s defence has been nearly impenetrable then Germany’s has been quite ominous. For all their perceived issues at the back before the tournament you wouldn’t have guessed they had any on the evidence of the performances in this tournament.
They are yet to concede a goal at Euro 2016 and if they can replicate that tonight then it will give there chances of beating Italy for the first time at a major tournament a massive boost. In the previous 8 encounters Italy have won 4 and there has been 4 draws. Can it be 9th time lucky for Joachim Low’s side?
They strolled past Slovakia in the Quarter Finals in a game where Mesut Ozil has the luxury of missing a penalty such was there dominance it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But Arsenal fans are probably concerned that both he and Granit Xhaka missed from the spot over the course of last weekend.
Germany may have got off to a slightly slow start but in their last two games they have looked more like the side which tasted success at the 2014 World Cup. They may have beaten Northern Ireland only 1-0 but that was due to Michael McGovern’s heroics in goal and some woeful finishing. It’s no overreaction to sat they could have been 4 or 5 up by half time on any other afternoon.
The attacking unit had certainly clicked by the time they breezed past Slovakia and if they are in the same form tonight then they will cause Italy some real problems. But that said Italy will obviously provide a much sterner test so we could be seeing a traditional battle of attack vs defence
If that is the case then you have to ask yourself who will win, Germany are getting better and don’t forget they are yet to concede in this tournament so they have that extra facet in their locker. I hope the fact that they’ve only conceded 1 goal between them means both sides don’t cancel each other out.
Bad runs have to come to an end eventually and I have a feeling that Germany will just edge this one, maybe even extra time and penalties will be required for this one. However long it takes I think it will be Germany in the Semi Finals while Antonio Conte starts to plan for life at Stamford Bridge.