Germany v Italy: Expert v Expert Preview


This is most definitely the pick of the bunch in the quarter-final line-up, as Germany and Italy do battle in the beautiful surroundings of Bordeaux.

This is a game that reads like a major final and the tactical nous of the Italians against the technical ability of the Germans should make for an intriguing contest.

We asked our omnipotent experts Raphael Honigstein and Paolo Bandini to assess the chances of both teams.

 

TEAM NEWS

Raphael Honigstein on Germany: Germany have made a big secret of their line-up and formation, training at their base camp behind closed doors on Friday instead of Bordeaux, with the blessing of UEFA. There are no injuries and suspensions, which points to an unchanged side. Some observers believe that Mario Götze could come in for Julian Draxler after the Wolfsburg midfielder’s man of the match performance in the 3-0 win over Slovakia.

General manager Oliver Bierhoff has claimed that Joachim Löw is thinking about the introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger and there’s been even talk of Germany going with three at the back (as they did in their 4-1 win over Italy in March) but these might well be unfounded rumours, designed to throw Antonio Conte off the scent. Löw sticking with the same XI that delivered the most convincing performance of the competition seems the most likely scenario. 

Paolo Bandini on Italy:Not all Italians were sad to see Thiago Motta pick up a suspension for this game. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder’s inclusion in the Azzurri’s Euro 2016 squad had been unpopular with fans to begin with. As one Twitter wag observed during the player’s ponderous performance against Spain: “Motta is so slow he’s still playing against Sweden”. 

Tactically, though, his absence could be a problem. Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 calls for two hard-running midfielders either side of a creative central player. Marco Verratti was supposed to start in the latter role until injury ruled him out of the tournament. Daniele De Rossi then took over, before he limped out of the Spain game with a thigh problem. Motta was next in line.

De Rossi joined the second half of training on Friday, but his chances of starting this game look slim. If he does not, then Marco Parolo may have to shift inside - with Stefano Sturaro taking his spot on the right of Italy’s midfield trio. The rest of the team should be unchanged. Antonio Candreva remains injured, meaning Alessandro Florenzi will keep his spot at right wing-back. 

 

FORM

Honigstein: Germany have steadily improved throughout the competition and reached new heights when they destroyed Slovakia. Draxler, in particular was a revelation, but there were also strong support performance from the selfless Thomas Müller and a passing master-class from Mesut Özil, who played with real gusto and presence. With his second goal of the competition, Mario Gomez will have done enough to warrant another start and the back four as a whole looked very solid, too, with Germany providing protection by keeping the ball and winning it back very quickly.

Bandini: Italy put in their best performance of the summer so far against Spain, and have never lost to Germany at a major tournament. They were thrashed 4-1 by these opponents, however, in a friendly this March.

 

KEY MAN

Honigstein: Toni Kroos will have to play even better than usual against an Italian midfield that like to man-mark and press very aggressively in the centre. The Real Madrid midfielder also has a (small) point to prove: he was widely blamed when Germany lost in the semi-final against the Azzurri at Euro 2012.

Bandini: Mattia De Sciglio was superb against Spain and Italy will hope that his surging runs down the left can trouble Germany’s makeshift right-back Joshua Kimmich.  

 

SURE THING

Honigstein: This will be a controlled game, with players being careful not to commit unnecessary fouls. Under 4.5 cards is available at 1.73

Bandini:  Conte has used all three substitutions in every match so far, and Joachim Löw has done the same in Germany’s last two games. With both teams promising a high-intensity approach, and legs tiring as we get further into the competition, it would be a surprise to see either manager hold back on the changes.

Total substitutions: 6 - 1.70

 

LONG SHOT

Honigstein: Germany will have noted the way Italy tired towards the end against Spain. You can back them to score the first goal of the match in the last 15 minutes of regular time for 12.00.

Bandini:  Italy have been a revelation at this tournament - tactically brilliant but also impressively closely-knit. They have outrun every opponent they have faced, but with one fewer rest day than Germany, could that finally catch up to them? The longer this game goes, the more I would expect them to struggle.

Germany to win in extra-time - 10.00

 

SCORE PREDICTION

Honistein: Germany 1-0 Italy at 5.80

Bandini: Italy 1-1 Germany at 6.25