BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday June 29 2016
Irresistible force, meet immovable object

After disposing of Spain, David Swan writes, Italy now face a Germany team that's better technically but poorer mentally.

No contest between two elite international teams offers quite the contrast in styles and apparent parity pre-match as a Spain-Italy clash. Whatever cliché (some of which are outdated) you want to use to badge it - attack versus defence, tiki-taka versus catenaccio - it's a matchup that presents problems for both. And that was the beauty of this last 16 match. No-one really wanted to play the other, and no-one had a mental advantage (more on this later).

That said, Spain's performances against an Italy 3-5-2 have been horrendous. Or any 3-5-2 for that matter. You would have thought, after three previous matches against the Azzurri version, outgoing Coach Vicente Del Bosque would have learned how to adapt. The first group match in Euro 2012 was an even contest, a fair draw. But in the next two - the Confederations Cup 2013 semi-final and the friendly in March earlier this year - Italy were the better team and Spain were fortunate to come away with draws (and a penalty shootout win in the Confederations Cup semi).

Round four was easily the worst of the lot. They had no answer in the first half to Italy finding overloads in every area of the pitch. And although they were more imposing with their style in the second half, Spain could have conceded more than the one late counter-attack goal.

Italy were magnificent - you didn't even realise the much-vaunted Antonio Candreva was missing - but Spain's continued inability to manage a system with three at the back helped matters.

It will be fascinating now to see what Germany are going to do. On paper they are overwhelming favourites, given all the talent they have, but they do not want to play Italy. The mental advantage, irrespective of the players on the pitch, is with the Azzurri: they do, after all, have an undefeated record versus Germany in competitive internationals, a record you will no doubt hear and read about every day from now until kick off. It certainly played a part four years ago at Euro 2012 when, asked pre-match if he would do anything to combat Italy, Germany Coach Joachim Löw was emphatic in saying he wouldn't, and that Germany would play their game. Of course, he then went on to do the exact opposite - changing his team by introducing Toni Kroos to the No.10 role and moving Mesut Özil wide in a bid to stop Andrea Pirlo. Spain, with no previous scarring, didn't change their style at all for the final.

The friendly in March between the two wasn't a contest. Germany dominated the entire game, and could have had more than the four goals they did score. The interesting subplot is that, while Italy played a back three, albeit a more offensive and open one than we will see on Saturday, so did Germany. It's probably the only time they've looked good in a back three, but given how well they played that night, there is potentially a temptation for Löw to change from the back four Germany have played the entire tournament, and with which they clearly look more comfortable. But in doing so, he sends exactly the same message to his players that he sent in 2012 and concedes a mental advantage - that if Germany play their game, and Italy play theirs, he thinks Italy have more chances to win. Let the fun and games begin.

Have your say...
Well, Italia has already exceeded all expectations..I never did doubt the result against Spain but it will be a different game against the machine like robotic Germans..Italia are the clear underdogs going into this one, they need a huge effort right from the BBCC and more than the wingers, the battle will be won or lost in the center midfield..Parolo will have a very huge role to play just like Simone Perrotta had to in 2006 world cup and also like Montolivo in 2012 Euro semis..
on the 30th June, 2016 at 7:02pm
Anyone can doubt - always easier to be negative than believe. It's weak. Bottom line is, I cannot see Italy giving up 2 goals vs anyone. Condreva and DeRossi huge losses, but I do believe in Conte and his system... he'll figure it out. If we beat Germany, Italy can win this thing... and that's truth.
on the 30th June, 2016 at 4:56pm
Jord124 I agree with u all the way when it comes to Baggio 4ever. He's just constantly being negative and saying we're going to lose so if we do eventually lose he can say 'I told you so' and pat himself on the back. He's not even an Azzurri fan, he's supports England and is just using this website to be a Troll and put The Azzurri down because he's so jealous of the talent they have as a team which England don't. So please just ignore his comments and I'm sure he'll eventually go away!
on the 30th June, 2016 at 2:19am
@Papaberts .... :-)))

Can anyone tell me the situation with the bookings ???
on the 30th June, 2016 at 12:06am
I can understand why some comments of let's be cautious and not to run away with our emotions, but come on and let's hope and be positive.

Can we yet again beat them?........I hope so..........until that game I'll continue to bite all my nails and pull out the little hair I've got left on my head...........fellow Azzurri fan can anyone share me their shoulder to lay on for my nerves!

Forza Azzurri!
on the 29th June, 2016 at 9:17pm
CIAO AMICI!
GERMANY IS A GREAT TEAM BUT IT IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE THEIR STRIKERS GOMEZ/PODOLSKI ARE NOT THE BEST IN EUROPE BUT
STILL GOOD!
ITALIA WILL STICK TO 3-5-2 WINNING FORMATION AS IF DE ROSSI
NOT FIT WE WILL SEE DARMIAN WHO HAS BEEN GREAT SO FAR!
WE WILL GIVE GERMANY RUN OF THEIR LIVES MAKE IT VERY HARD TO HAVE POSSESSION OF BALL!OR CONTROL THE GAME!
AZZURRI ARE VERY WELL ORGANIZED /HARD WORKING QUICK TO ADOPT SQUAD SO IT WILL BE VERY TOUGH TO BREAK THEIR CONCENTRATION!
FORZA AZZURRI!
on the 29th June, 2016 at 7:24pm
You'd have to look back and say "I was one of the doubters". It's not too late to get on board. The Azzurri can do it!
on the 29th June, 2016 at 7:10pm
you're missing out on the joy of believing and then succeeding; what the Italians do best. No pundit will be greatly surprised if Italy win this one. And they've shown they're absolutely capable. So why choose the other side of the fence? De Rossi or no De Rossi, this isn't about the individuals. Our Baggio is the team. Imagine if Italy went all the way, knocking out every favourite above them in an epic triumph in what would mark a very special moment in our history...
on the 29th June, 2016 at 7:09pm
@Baggio4ever. You talk as if Italy have already been knocked out, completely writing them off. Most predictions struggle to separate the two and at most, Germany are slight favourites. Yes if you keep writing Italy off, eventually when they do lose, you'll be right and you can pat yourself on the back. You're playing a numbers game. I don't know what your motive is by being negative (maybe you're just a cup half empty kind of guy) but we all experienced the last two world cups too and...
on the 29th June, 2016 at 7:08pm
De Rossi is a huge loss because he has been monumental so far. A much bigger loss than Candreva in my opinion. That said, I trust Conte will have the guys prepared for this match. It's Germans who are scared.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 7:06pm
NON POSSIAMO FERMARCI ORA !
Forza Conte, Forza Azzurri.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 6:25pm
@Baggio 4ever .... why so negative .... atleast hold yourself back please.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 5:43pm
I think the Italian run comes to end against the Germans. With De Rossi and Candreva out, I don't see enough depth on the bench or playmakers to solve these issues. I wish some better conditioned players would of been brought.....Remember, we're playing the world champions so as I reiterated, Germany will win this game 2-0 in a hard fought game. It won't go into penalty kicks. That's my view. Regardless, it was a great tournament for Italy and they can definitely hold there head up high. CHeers
on the 29th June, 2016 at 2:28pm
Poorer mentally? Germany and italy are the greatest european national teams by far and the main reason for that is their winning mentality. So saying Germany are poorere mentally is just silly. Germany are the strongest team by a fair margin in the euros and it will take something special to defeat them, just like conte said.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 2:18pm
@Luciano. We were the better team and created the more clear cut chances, especially in extra time. Di Natale denied superbly by Casillas.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 2:03pm
The reason we never lose to the Germans is because we are rarely overrun by teams. We may play poorly but we rarely get thrashed in competitive games (Euro 2012 was a fluke). The Germans are bullies (in the nicest sense) and rely on the opposition to capitulate; Italy never do. I see a very close game but please no penalties! Spain did us in 2008 (I still maintain we were the better team) and broke their bad run. Let's pray the Germans don't do the same and their bad run against Italy continues.
on the 29th June, 2016 at 12:30pm

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