NEWS
Thursday June 28 2012
Line-ups: Germany-Italy

Italy stick with Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano, but Giorgio Chiellini is at left-back and Federico Balzaretti on the right against Germany.

The Euro 2012 semi-final kicks off in Warsaw at 19.45 UK time and the winners will go through to face Spain on Sunday.

Chiellini missed the quarter-final with England due to a thigh problem, but has shaken it off in record time to start this evening’s clash.

So far Chiellini has been used in central defence, but tonight he’s re-routed to left-back because Balzaretti is needed on the right.

Ignazio Abate has not recovered in time from his injury and Christian Maggio is suspended, so Palermo left-back Balzaretti has to switch flanks in order to fill in the gaps.

Daniele De Rossi plays through the pain of sciatica to start and Riccardo Montolivo retains his spot as the more advanced point of the diamond midfield, supporting Cassano and Balotelli.

There were reports Alessandro Diamanti or Antonio Nocerino could start, but they are on the bench along with Antonio Di Natale.

Germany have won all their games in qualifying and in the tournament proper for an all-time record run of 15 consecutive victories, so are the favourites to go through tonight.

Having rested several stars in the 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece, Joachim Low brings back Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski, but Toni Kroos is chosen rather than Thomas Muller.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is fit to start despite suffering from an ankle problem, but Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle and Lazio’s Miroslav Klose return to the bench.

Germany have faced Italy in seven tournaments – five World Cups and two Euros – without ever managing a victory.

The Azzurri are unbeaten in 14 competitive games under Cesare Prandelli, winning nine.

Italy: Buffon; Balzaretti, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Pirlo; Marchisio, Montolivo, De Rossi; Cassano, Balotelli

Germany: Neuer; J Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Podolski, Ozil, Kroos; Gomez

Ref: Lannoy (Fra)

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