Germany vs. Italy  1 - 2

Article

Euro 2012 semi-final: Germany 1 Italy 2

29 June 2012 13:34

A brilliant two-goal performance from Mario Balotelli steered Italy into the Euro 2012 final on Thursday.

The Manchester City forward hit the headlines for all the right reasons, opening the scoring with a powerful header before smashing home an emphatic second to clinch a date with Spain at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

It was a deserved victory for Italy, who could have added further goals in the second half had they taken one of the numerous chances afforded to them by Germany's rushes forward to find a way back into the match.

Mesut Ozil ensured a nervy finish to the encounter with a penalty in second-half stoppage time, but there was to be no miracle for Germany, who bowed out at the semi-final stage for the second major tournament in a row.

It was Germany who threatened first only six minutes in, after Mats Hummels' scrambled shot was blocked on the line by Andrea Pirlo, allowing Gianluigi Buffon to smother.

Italy's skipper nearly forced an own goal moments later after inadvertently diverting a Jerome Boateng cross into Andrea Barzagli, but the deflection rolled just wide of the post.

Riccardo Montolivo blasted into the arms of Manuel Neuer from the edge of the box, but the Germany keeper was forced to work much harder by Antonio Cassano, whose curler towards the bottom corner was tipped away.

Italy started to ask questions of the suspect German defence. Then, with 20 minutes gone, they carved them apart.

Chiellini fed Cassano on the overlap down the left, and the Milan forward delivered a superb cross into the heart of the area, where Balotelli rose above Holger Badstuber to head Italy into the lead.

Italy were buoyed by the goal, with Germany still unable to shake off the erratic edge to their play. Montolivo's hesitation allowed Badstuber to strip him of possession deep inside the area, but the new Milan signing would make a far more decisive contribution with 36 minutes gone.

His searching ball over the top caught the German back line out completely and released Balotelli, who stormed towards goal and smashed an unstoppable finish high into the back of the net.

The Manchester City man was booked for ripping his shirt off in a passionate celebration, but there were no such signs of desire from Germany.

Germany's Phillip Lahm should have done a lot better after the restart, blasting over from wide out.

Marco Reus was next to try his luck with a powerful free-kick from 20 yards out, but Buffon was equal to it and managed to punch over the crossbar.

Then it was Italy's turn.

A sweeping break just past the hour mark saw Alessandro Diamanti slip in Claudio Marchisio behind Badstuber, but his finish was driven the wrong side of the post.

The Juventus midfielder spurned an even greater chance with a quarter of an hour to play, when Badstuber's slip allowed him with a clear sight on goal, but he disappointingly dragged his shot wide.

Substitute Antonio Di Natale wasted another chance on 82 minutes after being put one-on-one with Neuer, but with all the time in the world to pick his spot, he instead found the side netting.

Germany were handed a late lifeline after Balzaretti's handball was spotted in the box, giving Ozil the chance to bury from the spot.

Article

Euro 2012 semi-final preview: Germany v Italy

28 June 2012 19:19

Germany will look to end their winless run against Italy in major tournaments when the two meet in Thursday's Euro 2012 semi-final.

The Germans have failed to beat Italy in seven previous attempts at major tournaments, the most recent being a 2-0 loss after extra-time at the 2006 World Cup.

It's a run which has seen Germany taste victory just seven times in 30 fixtures and they are without success in 17 years, a run stretching back to 1995.

But the form shown by Joachim Loew's side at these championships suggests the streak may be about to come to an end.

Since losing to eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, Germany have won 15 consecutive competitive fixtures, which include four wins at this year's championships.

And the third-ranked side has netted nine goals in Poland and Ukraine, with four of those coming against Greece in the quarter-finals.

However, Italy will pose a far greater threat than the 2004 European champions.

To date, the Italians have conceded a mere two goals in four matches and held Spain to a 1-1 draw in their Euro 2012 opening fixture.

The most impressive aspect of Italy's game has been the performances from experienced campaigner Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo has put in a number of stellar showings, in particular his match against England, but don't expect the midfield maestro to be given as much time and space on Friday.

This German side, boasting the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Oezil will enjoy extended periods of possession.

In terms of injury news, Italian centre back Giorgio Chiellini could make a return on Thursday having missed his nation's quarter-final clash with a hamstring strain.

The Juventus defender said he could be fit and ready to play at Warsaw's National Stadium.

"I feel better," he said. "We'll see in the next few days but I hope and I think that I can play on Thursday."

For Germany, Schweinsteiger insists he feels 100 percent fit despite suffering from a number of niggling injuries.

"I'm very happy and I feel OK," Schweinsteiger said. "I know how to deal with the situation. I'm looking forward to the game, and trying my best to be ready.

"I'm feeling better today (Monday). I feel fit enough to start, and I'm really eager to do so. When I say that I feel good, I mean it."