History has it that Italy has never lost to Germany in a competitive football match! The Euro 2012 tournament history has it that Italy have won only one of their matches so far, and are still amongst the top four teams! They would want to better that to “the best” in Europe and go back home erasing bad memories of match fixing scandals. Though erasing the scandals wouldn’t be on coash Cesare Prandelli’s wishlist, he would definitely want to continue with his no-loss record and find a place in the UEFA Euro 2012 final.
As the semi-final is against Germany, this would be Italy’s toughest match of this campaign. Germany is in amazing form and they have a lot of finishers in their line-up, something that Italy lacks. But Italy makes that up by not conceding goals, thanks to their leakproof defence and hardworking midifield. Italy played well in both the 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 formations they tried in the other matches and I believe they would go in with a 4-4-2 against Germany too. But this time, Italy has some more injury worries to some of the key players in their formation. My preview is based on the assumption that Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi, Ignazio Abate, and Thiago Motta are all fit and available for the semi-final. In case they are not playing, the replacements for them are also given.
Goalie would be Gigi Buffon, arguably the best in the business. Ahead of him would be Andrea Barzagli and Chiellini in central defence. Running down the right flank would be Abate and left flank would be Federico Balzaretti who showed amazing control in previous matches in collecting long balls when the midfielders switched play from the right flank to the left. Powering the diamond in the middle would be Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Daniele De Rossi, and Claudio Marchisio. In the strike, I would have Antonio Di Natale and Mario Balotelli. As in all matches, Pirlo would hold the keys to unlock the opposition goal line! If Abate is injured, they don’t have a proper right back to field as Christian Maggio would sit out this match due to the two yellow cards he picked up. If Abate or Chiellini is to miss the match, I would bring Leonardo Bonucci into the defence. If both Abate and Chiellini miss out, either De Rossi or Angelo Ogbonna would come to fill the vacancy. In case De Rossi is injured or is not moved from the midfield, it would mean that Ogbonna would play his first match of the Euro Cup. If De Rossi does not need to come to the defence but he still misses the match, Antonio Nocerino would take his place in the midfield. But if De Rossi is available in the midifeld but Motta misses out then also Nocerino would be the rescue man to fill the spot. In the worst case of both De Rossi and Motta missing out, along with Nocerino, Alessandro Dimanti would get a starting line-up position. If all is well for Italy, the three substitutes would be Diamanti, Antonio Cassano, and Nocerino. This would be the first match in the tournament for Borini. But if Nocerino and Diamanti would have to start the match then the replacements would be Riccardo Montolivo and Fabio Borini. If it happens, it would be the first match in the tournament for Borini, which would ensure that all the players except the two additional goal keepers in the side would get at least one game in this tournement. But in any case, I would go with the formation 4-4-2 which stands a great chance for Italy to overcome Germany.
On the other hand, every name in the German side is a hero. They have excellent players like Mesut Ozil and tireless workers like captain Philip Lahm, sensible midfielders like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira, and top class finishers like Mario Gomez, Lucas Podolski, and Miroslav Klose. Like you, I also expect a very close encounter between the two world class sides. But I fancy that a one-goal difference or a shootout finish would get Italy through to the final for a re-match of the Group C opener “Italy vs Spain”.