In-depth look at Germany-Italy

A combination of pictures shows Italian head coach Cesare Prandelli (L) during a Euro 2012 football...

A combination of pictures shows Italian head coach Cesare Prandelli (L) during a Euro 2012 football championships quarterfinal match and German head coach Joachim Loew. (AFP)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:05 PM ET

HOW GERMANY CAN WIN

Imagine Spain and then add a dash of slash and flash. You have described Germany.

The Germans may not pass as long and as well as Spain but they aren't far off. The only difference is Germany is quick to infiltrate with its passes and, with Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose on the receiving end of them, that makes for a difficult thing to stop.

Should Italy decide to sit back, Germany has the advantage of a fully committed Philipp Lahm to provide impetus from the back. He is the extra player up front who is often difficult to track down. Lahm has proven in this tournament that if you don't account for him, he can step up and shoot the ball effectively.

It's imperative that Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger take over the midfield. Andrea Pirlo is the reason Italy has gotten this far and if the the German midfield leaves Pirlo to roam freely, Italy will sting the Germans. But Khedira and Schweinsteiger are midfielders who will give Pirlo a tough time.

DID YOU KNOW?

* Joachim Loew's side has won a record 15 successive (non-friendly) games, breaking the 14-match international record previously held by Spain (2010-11), France (2002-04) and the Netherlands (2008-2010).

* All three goals Miroslav Klose scored at the European Championship and 10 of the 17 he has managed at major tournaments have come on headers.

* Germany has kept just four clean sheets in its last 19 matches at the European Championship.

* Germany has scored at least one goal in each of its last 20 games.

* Philipp Lahm had gone 87 games without a goal -- a penalty against FC St. Pauli in November 2010 was his last -- before he scored against Greece in the quarterfinals.

* This was the first time Germany has completed a European Championship group stage by banking all the points available.

HOW ITALY CAN WIN

The Italians are in a unique spot of being considerable underdogs. Not many people expect them to win. That means they won't have pressure on them, or as little pressure as an Italian team can have on it.

A good start is key to the Italians. If they can create some chances early and worry the Germans, Germany will be a little wary of pushing up with too many players.

Italy can win if the forwards start putting the ball in the net -- four goals in four games isn't good enough. The Italians have wasted at least three times the number of quality scoring chances.

Germany gives up goals so Italy will get its chances. Converting those chances is crucial because the feeling is Germany will score. But the Italians are creating lots of chances. They have to eventually start going in, no?

It is imperative someone other than Andrea Pirlo plays well in the midfield. Whether it's Daniele De Rossi, who is now healthy, or Claudio Marchisio, Pirlo will need some help because no doubt Germany's goal will be to stop him from dictating the play. It's what Pirlo has done in Italy's first four games.

DID YOU KNOW?

* Italy has won just one of its last seven games in regulation time. That victory, over Ireland at Euro 2012, ended a national-record run of six games without a regulation-time victory in major tournaments for Italy.

* Coach Cesare Prandelli is unbeaten in competitive internationals, recording nine wins and five draws to date. The shoot-out triumph over England was considered a draw.

* Italy has not scored an extra-time goal at the European Championship in seven games.

* Andrea Pirlo made 146 passes against England, completing 117, the most at Euro 2012, extra time included.

* Christian Maggio will miss the semifinal after picking up bookings against Spain and England.

* Pirlo's effort against Croatia was the first goal directly off a free kick at the European Championship since Marek Heinz scored against Germany at Euro 2004.


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