Germany's Philipp Lahm (L to R), Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng, and Mario Gomez celebrate a victory during their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match against Greece at the PGE Arena in Gdansk, June 22, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Pascal Lauener)
Heading into their semi-finals match against Italy, Germany is the only team in the Euro Cup 2012 to win all four of its matches.
Their match against Italy presents perhaps their greatest challenge as the Germany national team looks to beat the Italians for the first time in eight meetings. Italy has won the previous four and tied three. The last competitive match between the two teams was the fateful semi-finals match in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. On that day, Italy shut out Germany 2-0 en route to winning the World Cup.
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However, Thursday's match will be a different matter as Germany is the clear cut favorite. Here are reasons why the Germans should have no trouble defeating Italy.
Firepower Up Front
Italy will surely resort to clogging the midfield and pressuring the German offense to win counterattacks. However, there is no denying that the Germans have the most offensive potential remaining in the tournament. They had only scored five goals in their first three matches of group play, but erupted for four against Greece in the semi-finals. Germany has scored a total of nine goals in the tournament, and three have come from Mario Gomez. The other six were scored by six different Germans, exemplifying Germany's offensive depth. That also includes the fact that Thomas Muller, winner of the Golden Boot in the 2012 World Cup with five goals and three assists, has yet to register a single point in the tournament. He is due for a breakout.
Finally Mesut Ozil has been solid throughout the tournament and broke out for two assists against Greece. He is the creative genius behind Germany's attack and has only been getting better as the tournament has progressed. Look for him to be even better against Italy.
Champion Mentality and Confidence
Expectations are at an all-time high for the Germans. They were close to being champions of the 2008 Euro Cup and finished third in the 2010 World Cup. In both instances, they lost to Spain. They may get their third and best chance at topping the Iberians if Spain beats Portugal. If the Spanish lose, the Germans know that they can defeat the Portuguese, which they did in the first game of the group stage.
The Germans have not looked weak throughout the entirety of the tournament; in fact, they have improved from game to game. Their last match was their most dominant as they destroyed Greece 4-2. Even when Greece came back to tie the game at one, the Germans responded with three straight goals.
With the youth and depth of this team, there is no doubt that they came into this tournament thinking about finally winning it all. And they will play that way against Italy.
Probably the biggest reason will win this match is because their opponent is not in the same league as the Germans, or the other three contestants in the tournament for that matter. Italy has only given up two goals in the tournament, but has only scored four. They have gotten progressively worse as the tournament has progressed and reached an all-time low when they could barely score against a pathetic English side. Italy could have lost in the shootout if not for an English miss and a save from Gianluigi Buffon.
More importantly, Italy does not match up well with the Germans. They may are older than Germany, which over the course of a match will wear them out. They lack the offensive prowess to match Germany's firepower, and their defense is not what it was in 2006. They lack the strength and speed on the backend to counter the youth, skill, and speed of Joachim Low's offense.
Disagree? Read the counterargument for an Italian Victory HERE.
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