Thursday, June 28, 2012

Italy v FRG...I mean West Germany...I mean Germany

Now this is a rivalry that has a deep history on the pitch - Germany v Italy. They have met 30 times (7 times in World or European Cups), Italy has never lost in those 7 meetings. There are some that argue the 1970s World Cup semi finals is the greatest match of all time...

The game had some legendary names and some players who changed the way the game was played - Facchetti and Beckenbauer showed the world how defensive players could influence the game offensively. Sepp Maier revolutionized goalkeeping by introducing the use of special gloves (notice that the Italian keeper Albertosi is bare handed, old school!). Das Bomber Muller set the standard for strikers and goal scoring.

More recently there was the 2006 World Cup semi-final, where Italy scored 2 late goals to get into the finals, where they would eventually beat Les Bleus on penalty kicks...sigh. There was also the 1982 World Cup Finals, and one of the most iconic goal celebrations we have seen.

Tardelli gives the Azurri a 2-0 lead in 1982

Anyways back to Germany v Italy circa 2012. This match will pit two teams that know each other well and know each other's style on the field. I think this is the tournament that Germany finally gets the Italian monkey off their back, three reasons why:

  • The German midfield will snuff out Pirlo and therefore the Italian metronome. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira will be too much for the Italian play maker. If you look at the two midfields, the advantage has to go to the Huns. In addition to the two I just mentioned, Ozil will create some headaches for the Italian midfield. If De Rossi is not 100% this will make the Italian midfield's task that much more of a challenge. In the battle for the center of the park, I look for Germany's talented players to keep Pirlo in check and create too many mismatches for the Italians to overcome.
  • Germany is more rested and healthier than the Italians. With the aforementioned Schwinnie declared fit for the game, Germany do not have the amount of injury concerns that Italy has. Italy may not have the services of the likes of Abate, De Rossi and Chiellini, add to this that Maggio is suspended and Italy are starting to look thin at the back. Especially at right back if Abate cannot go. In addition, the Italians played two days ago while Germany had and extra two days of rest. Without some key players and assuming heavier legs, can Italy keep up with the attack minded Germany? I doubt that even the best catenaccio will hold the likes of Ozil, Muller, Podoloski, Klose, Gomez et al at bay.
  • The German pace will be to much for the Italian back line. I never thought I would write the words "German" and "pace" in the same sentence....but one has to say that this German team is not the methodical bulldozer my uncle used to call them. This team has pace and speed down the wings as well as through the center. If the Italians are forced to play with 3 at the back (due to injury and suspensions) and do not have a full fit De Rossi to break up the attacks in the midfield, I think the German pace down the channels with the likes of Klose or Gomez in the box will be too much for Italy.
I think this game will be a tight one, but late on it will open up for the Germans. Italy will not go away easily but in the end - Germany 2: Italy 1.

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