Friday 29 June 2012
Germany (0) 1 – 2 (2) Italy
This wasn’t in the script was it? Germany playing the best football in the tournament, and having had 48 hours more to prepare than Italy. The Italians considered just an ‘average’ side that couldn’t play if Pirlo was stopped. But then of course we forgot about ‘Super’ Mario and so did the German defence at times on the evidence of last night.
Germany never hit the heights of their previous games and tactically it didn’t work either. Kroos was brought into the team to shut down and stop the creativity of Pirlo, without success. It was defensively that the Germans looked weak and lapses caused them to find themselves 2-0 after thirty six minutes. The first came after Cassano easily beat his marker and his cross was headed home by an unmarked Mario Balotelli. The second came from a long ball by Montolivo which exposed the German backline, allowing Balotelli to run on and unleash an unstoppable shot past Neuer. A shell-shocked Germany found themselves 2-0 down at the break and unsurprisingly there were second-half substitutions as Podolski and Gomez were replaced by Reus and Klose. Buffon stood firm in the Italian goal saving well from a Reus free-kick, but in reality Italy never looked in trouble and a penalty converted by Ozil was nothing more than scant consolation for the Germans. Against the odds and despite all the scandal back home about match-fixing, Italy are through to the Final. Can the Italians spoil the Spanish dream of a third consecutive major title?