Stuttgart defender Cristian Molinaro gives the inside view on Euro 2012 semi-final Italy-Germany. “The truth is they really fear us.”
The former Juventus and Siena full-back has been playing in the Bundesliga since January 2010 and received his first of two Italy caps later that year.
“There is great rivalry between the nations and the city of Stuttgart is already fired up for Thursday night’s game,” he told RadioCalcioMercato.
“Cesare Prandelli already changed system during the tournament and the Azzurri have proved they can play good football, hitting when it hurts. That is above all down to the Coach, who put his mark on the squad.
“Joachim Low’s side has many valid players who can create problems for the Italian back line. The match will be decided in midfield, where we have great men like Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Daniele De Rossi.
“I played with Andrea in the Nazionale and can confirm we are dealing with a great champion. He started his career in another position, but had no problems immediately settling into a new role. I can’t see why a midfielder with Pirlo’s quality shouldn’t win the Ballon d’Or. He really deserves it.”
Germany have won all their qualifiers and every game so far in Euro 2012 itself, but Molinaro says the memories of the 2006 World Cup Final loom large.
“In psychological terms, I think Italy are still a step ahead. I think Germany would’ve preferred to face England in the semi-final, considering their record against Italy.
“Here the newspapers keep focusing on the quality of the German side, who have been renovated in terms of system, players and ideas. The truth, though, is that they really fear us...
“The average age of the German side is very young and they are dangerous when imposing their pace. The player who most impressed me was Marco Reus, who in terms of technique and finishing is for me on a par with Mario Gotze.
Molinaro had a brief stint in the Italy jersey, playing in Prandelli’s first friendly against the Ivory Coast in August 2010 and the 2-1 European qualifier in Estonia a month later.
“I played against Estonia, then that was the end of my Nazionale career. I paid the price for Stuttgart going through a tough season.
“I kept in touch with many players and spoke to Giorgio Chiellini a few days ago. Juventus deserved to come back to the top of Italian football and I compliment them and Antonio Conte for extraordinary work.”