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Germany v Italy: Germany to edge the battle of the aristocrats

by Aidan Elder | June 27, 2012
Germany v Italy 2006

PIR’ PRESSURE – Podoloski tackles Pirlo in the 2006 World Cup semi-final

Germany v Italy, Thursday 7.45pm BBC1 and RTE2

By Aidan Elder | Chief Sports Writer

The lowdown…

It’s a meeting of two of Europe’s great footballing clichés as the ruthless efficiency of Germany meets the ruthless willingness to defend of Italy. There’s a defeat to Spain in the final of Euro 2012 at stake so it’s a biggie.

No-one ever writes off the Germans, even when they’re a bit crap, so it’s even less advisable when they’re actually playing well. They emerged from the Group of Death with nothing more than a paper cut and even had the luxury of resting star striker Mario Gomez for the cake-walk over Greece.

The Italians were meant to be (a) crap and (b) too busy helping police with their enquiries, but the expected disarray hasn’t manifested itself in sub-standard performances. Right from the off they’ve been pretty impressive, holding Spain to a draw and then beating Ireland comfortably. We’ll forget out the questionable performance against Croatia in the middle. They created enough chances to send England packing long before penalties and they’re as dangerous as telling Antonio Cassano you think his buns look great these days.

Match Betting…

Incredibly, Germany haven’t beaten Italy since 1995. That’s so long ago, Rudi Voeller’s perm was still considered vaguely fashionable and not the object of ridicule and projectile saliva.

In the present day however, their reputation for reliability and current good form make Germany the hot favourites to go through. They’ve attacked well and not defended like the musical statues many people pegged their centre-backs for. As the competition has gone on, we’ve seen the squad depth within their ranks and it’s all looking pretty rosy for Joachim Loew.

Despite grim forecasts (some of which suggested they may not even be as good as Ireland) Cesare Prandelli has his Italy team playing good football that doesn’t involve leaving the team bus parked in the penalty area. They’ve defied the odds against Germany in the past, knocking die Mannschaft out of the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup on German soil. Germany look stronger, but at 12/5, the draw in 90 minutes might not be the worst idea.

Correct score stab in the dark…

For all their attacking prowess, Germany haven’t kept a clean sheet since their opening game with Portugal. Three games have passed without keeping Manuel Neuer’s sheets clean. What’s more worrying is they conceded to Greece who’ve gained a reputation for being more toothless than an octogenarian who has mislaid her dentures. Both teams will probably score, with Germany probably the ones likely to do it more often. Germany 2-1 is an 8/1 chance with Germany 3-1 a not entirely impossible 16/1.

A goalscorer bet to look out for…

Mario Gomez is the obvious choice, but that’s about as original as a Balotelli/fireworks gag. Italy failed to track a couple of English runs from midfield and as Germany’s midfield like to make runs into the penalty area, they could have some joy. At 12/1 to be first goalscorer, Mesut Ozil may not be a bad shout.

Something random…

Germany are actually the cleanest team at the tournament. They’ve committed the least fouls per game (9) of all the teams at the tournament and collected the least bookings (3) and red cards (0). They’re 9/2 to have a Card Index of under 10 points, which, in layman’s terms, means going through the game like angels without picking up a single card.

Robbie Fowler says …

Germany look very strong and I can’t see many weaknesses throughout the team. Italy impressed me with their attacking against England, but this is a different kettle of fish. I can’t even picture them scoring against this German defence so I’m going to go for Germany to win 2-0.

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