Germany has remained consistent throughout the tournament, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 even as teams have sat deeper in an effort to nullify its lethal counterattack. Germany will attempt to seize the attacking initiative from the outset, with Mesut Ozil the primary conduit. Bastian Schweinsteiger, if fit, and Sami Khedira anchor the German midfield, while in the back Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber form a solid central pairing. Outside back Philipp Lahm is a threat on both sides of the ball, as he showed by scoring against Greece. Defensively, Germany does have its weaknesses. Greece exposed the team’s frailties on the counter, and defending set pieces has been an issue as well.
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has instituted a more aesthetically pleasing style upon the Azzurri even as he’s been forced to change tactical systems because of absence and injury. Early on, with his resources limited at the back, he used a 3-5-2 with Daniele De Rossi as a sweeper. In the past two games, Prandelli has reverted to the 4-1-3-2 that he used in qualifying with Andrea Pirlo as the deep-lying midfielder. Claudio Marchisio and in particular De Rossi will be counted on to help out defensively in the middle of the park. With Giorgio Chiellini nursing a hamstring strain, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci have handled things in the back, although the suspension of Christian Maggio and a left-leg injury to Ignazio Abate could make the right back spot a concern.
Much is being made of Italy’s mastery over Germany in competitive matches. Indeed, the Azzurri have a record of 3-0-4 against Die Mannschaft, including a 2-0 win in extra time in the 2006 World Cup semifinals. But a bigger issue is the fact that Germany will have had two extra days of rest since its quarterfinal win over Greece, and Italy was also taken to penalties in its match against England. Prandelli has largely gone with the same names in midfield, meaning that fatigue could very well be a factor.
Both sides have injury worries, but Italy’s list is longer, with Abate, Chiellini and De Rossi (sciatica problem) giving Prandelli a major headache. Expect De Rossi and German counterpart Schweinsteiger to play, but the effectiveness of both players will bear watching.
it should be an entertaining tilt