Euro 2016

Euro 2016: Germany's Italian hoodoo

Italy's coach Antonio Conte attending a training session at their training ground in Montpellier on the eve of the Euro 2016 quarter-final match against Germany.
Italy's coach Antonio Conte attending a training session at their training ground in Montpellier on the eve of the Euro 2016 quarter-final match against Germany. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But Germany confident they can break curse of failing to defeat Italy in a competitive game

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Germany v Italy

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BORDEAUX • They have won four World Cups and three European Championships, yet mighty Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive match - eight games played, four lost, four drawn.

The world champions will come face to face with their ultimate tournament nightmare again, when they take on the Azzurri in their quarter-final tie in Bordeaux today.

 

Their hoodoo against the Italians goes back almost half a century but they remain confident they can end a streak that includes defeats in one World Cup final, two semi-finals and the Euro 2012 last four.

There are signs that it could be Germany's turn to smile today, as the 2014 World Cup winners have yet to concede a goal so far.

After topping Group C with two wins and a draw, they disposed of Slovakia 3-0 in the round of 16 with an impressive display in which their frontline burst into life after three below-par performances.

Forward Mario Gomez, initially left on the bench, has struck in each of their last two matches and looks set to spearhead their attack again.

"We know that everything will be demanded from us," said team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

"This is a new game, maybe the Italians are even stronger than in 2012 and we have been warned. But the game will start from zero for both teams and the past does not interest us."

Coach Joachim Low will have a full squad to choose from with Jonas Hector having recovered from the flu and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger fully fit after playing only a minor role so far following a long-term injury.

"I feel Bastian is ready now. He belongs to the players that Low can now count on 100 per cent," Bierhoff said.

Antonio Conte's Italy lack the big names of the past but were among four teams unbeaten in qualifying and have kept their momentum going in France, conceding just one.

Their so-called three-man BBC defence, led by Giorgio Chiellini playing alongside Juventus team-mates Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, has been key to their success.

"We have the Juve trio who guide us; they've not been winning for five years for nothing," said fellow defender Mattia de Sciglio.

Conte will likely be without midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who picked up a thigh injury in Monday's 2-0 win over Spain.

Thiago Motta, his usual replacement, is missing through suspension.

That is unlikely to deter the Italians, according to de Sciglio.

"Conte would be on the pitch with us if he could be," he said.

"He has taught us to fight for every inch. Fighting for every ball is our strength as we do not possess superstars."

REUTERS

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