Euro 2016

Germans get lowdown on BBC

Germany players warming up during training in Evian. Defender Mats Hummels says they must be careful not to fall behind like at Euro 2012, where they lost 1-2 in the semi-finals.
Sami Khedira (left) and Juventus team-mate Andrea Barzagli. The German will be on opposite sides today against Barzagli as well as Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sami Khedira (left) and Juventus team-mate Andrea Barzagli. The German will be on opposite sides today against Barzagli as well as Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon.
Germany players warming up during training in Evian. Defender Mats Hummels says they must be careful not to fall behind like at Euro 2012, where they lost 1-2 in the semi-finals. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Tips from midfielder Khedira on his Juventus club-mates will help unlock Italy's backline

EVIAN • Germany are counting on Sami Khedira to provide the inside information that will help them win their European Championship quarter-final against Italy today.

The German midfielder plays for Italian club Juventus, whose centre-backs Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini - known as BBC - and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon form the rock-solid defence of Antonio Conte's side.

"I think he (Khedira) will have talked to the coach (Joachim Low) a few times because just the (Italy) defence alone has got a few Juventus players in it," Germany midfielder Toni Kroos said on Thursday.

"So that is a thing we will consider while preparing, even though many of us have played against Italians."

He, however, brushed off Germany's eight previous failures on the big stage against Italy.

THAT'S ALL IN THE PAST

They are now a different team. That's all cold coffee. A fresh espresso is better and I hope it tastes better on Saturday.

JOACHIM LOW, Germany coach, who is not concerned about their dismal record against Italy in competitive games.

There is plenty of respect in the German camp for Italy, but no fear of them, said Kroos.

"Why should I have an 'Italian trauma'?" said the Real Madrid player who scored against Italy in March. "I haven't played that often against Italy, so previous matches were nothing to do with me.

"They are hard to play against, stand deep and are very relaxed on the ball, they've played like that for years.

"Italy will be the strongest team we have faced until now. I'm looking forward to it and I'm very optimistic."

Germany centre-back Jerome Boateng was equally dismissive of history being a factor in Bordeaux and is relishing the challenge.

"No, there are definitely worse things than playing against Italy," said the Bayern Munich defender.

  • 0

    Germany are the only team yet to concede at Euro 2016.

    14

    German victories in their last 17 games at major tournaments, drawing two and losing one - to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals.

    19

    Italy top the Euros clean sheets chart with 19 in 37 championship matches - just ahead of Germany (18 from 47).

    13

    Italy have picked up more cards than any other team at Euro 2016.

  • State Of Play

    RESULT

    QUARTER-FINALS

    Poland 1 Portugal 1 (after extra time; full time: 1-1; Portugal win 5-3 on penalties)


    FIXTURES

    QUARTER-FINALS

    Tomorrow, 2.50am

    Germany v Italy

    Monday, 2.50am

    France v Iceland

    All on Singtel TV Ch142 & StarHub Ch220

For Low, the Euro 2012 semi-final loss to Italy under his leadership is especially bitter, as the Germans were considered favourites at the time.

But he believes Germany's dismal record against Italy in competition play is not a source of trauma for the world champions.

"We have never beaten them in a tournament but we have no Italy trauma," Low said. "I do not rate the past too much.

"They are now a different team. That's all cold coffee. A fresh espresso is better and I hope it tastes better on Saturday."

Low, who led Germany to their fourth World Cup in 2014, said his players, who beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly in March, would be fully fit and rested when they faced the Italians in Bordeaux.

"We don't fear them. We know what we can do and if we do it then we have a good chance to win it," said the coach.

On paper, Germany have the edge in the vintage clash. They are the only team in the quarter-finals not to have conceded a goal and, for many fans, the memory of their 7-1 semi-final humiliation of hosts Brazil on their way to victory in the last World Cup remains fresh.

Yet, despite a morale-boosting 3-0 last-16 win over Slovakia, defender Mats Hummels said: "Italy are not Slovakia and we realise that we'll need to bring more to the table."

The 27-year-old knows the onus falls on him and centre-back partner Boateng to shut down Italy's attack, while Germany rely on their much-vaunted defence.

"We've learnt from 2012 that we can't fall behind, or it will be brutally hard, because they are very flexible with their three- or five-man defence," said Hummels. "I'd be very happy if we don't go behind.

"Like us, Italy are a tournament team and it will be very difficult to beat them."

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is unbeaten in his last five games dating back to a pre-Euros friendly win over Hungary, a Germany record.

It promises to be a busy evening against Italy for Hummels, Boateng and Neuer, who will be Bayern team-mates next season, after Italy threw down a marker in their 2-0 last-16 win over Spain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Germans get lowdown on BBC'. Print Edition | Subscribe