After watching yesterday’s semifinal between Spain and Portugal go to penalties, one can only imagine what drama is in store today. Here are 10 things to know about today’s second semifinal between Germany and Italy.
1. The German machine keeps plugging along. They’ve been in control of all their matches and have scored at least two goals in their last three games. They’re favored to win this game for good reason.
2. Italy comes in after beating England on penalties. They have two less days to recover from a game that forced them to play 120 minutes. Will that impact some of their older players, most specifically Andrea Pirlo? Pirlo is the straw that stirs the espresso for Italy. They’re going to need him to have energy to create offense against a high-powered German side. Offensively, they’re just isn’t the same without him.
3. Pirlo’s counterpart on the German side is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who’s been dealing with an ankle injury. Germany always does better when Schweinsteiger performs at a high work rate, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep that up with a bum ankle. They probably should’ve rested him against Greece in favor of Toni Kroos, but it’s too late for that now.
4 .Giorgio Chiellini returns for Italy after a hamstring issue and Federico Balzaretti will sit in his place. It’s a curious move for Italy because Chiellini is used to playing in the middle of the defense. It shows that Italy is concerned about the attacking wingers of Germany and plan on playing a heavily defensive game. Hamstring injuries also shouldn’t be discounted. Just ask Matt Kemp. If you rush back from it, there’s a great chance of re-injury.
5. Germany is keeping their starting lineup under wraps after a mole released the information for their last game. There is much debate about who will start on the wings for Germany after Lucas Podolksi and Thomas Müller were replaced by Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus. It’s debatable whether or not the change really gave Germany anything different. There’s also a question of whether or not Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez starts as the main striker. We’ll find out soon enough, but the Germans should be powerful regardless of who starts.
6. There was debate as to whether or not Italy should start Antonio Cassano, but they’re giving him another run despite his mediocre form so far in the tournament. Mario Balotteli, however, no longer has his place in question after two quality performances. He was a major threat against England after scoring against Ireland. The key aspect to the performance against England was that he was trying. That’s all you ask of the mercurial start with so much talent.
7. Germany has lost to Spain in the last two major tournaments, but they probably won’t be looking ahead to the final. They’ve got strong coaching and a core of players who have their share of caps in major tournaments. Jochaim Low will have his team focused at the task at hand.
8. Italy has never lost a competitive match to Germany, so the Germans are looking to do something new. Italy has three wins and four draws in seven matches in major tournament play.
9. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of watching boring soccer, but I have a feeling we’ll have a decent game today. That means we’ll start strongly, so my best bet plays involve more goals in the first half then the second half (+210) and Germany to advance in 90 minutes (-110).
10. I think Italy is going to regret playing a plodding Chiellini on the left side of defense. Look for Germany to attack his side with Lahm, Ozil, and whoever plays on the outside of midfield. They should get an early goal, which will open Italy up, and bring a more free flowing game. Germany gets their third crack at Spain with a 3-1 victory over the Italians.