Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Germany v Italy
The quarter-final contests at Euro 2016 continue on Saturday night with arguably the tie of the round as Germany prepare to face Italy in a game worthy of the final.
Germany v Italy, Saturday 2nd July 20.00, BBC1
The two teams met as recently as March in a friendly international with the Germans running out convincing 4-1 winners. Die Mannschaft are 6/5 to repeat that feat with a victory here, booking a semi-final place for their sixth successive major tournament.
However, Italy have beaten Germany in all four previous knockout stage encounters and have W4-D4-L0 in eight meetings at World Cups and European Championships. The Azzurri are rated as 14/5 shots to progress with a win.
Three-time European champions Germany set a standard with their performance against Slovakia in the last-16. Joachim Low’s side put in their most impressive display of the tournament in their 3-0 success with the most dominant display by a team at this championship.
After three average group displays, this was more trademark Germany. The movement of Die Mannschaft’s attack stretched the Slovak defence with the 4-2-3-1 system featuring Julian Draxler on the left, Mesut Ozil in the middle and Thomas Muller on the right of the attack, just behind striker Mario Gomez causing countless problems for their opponents.
Slovakia spent the match chasing the Germans and the game. And despite playing at a lower tempo after the break, Low’s troops still managed to score a third goal to complete the rout. It means Germany have now W14-D2-L1 in their last 17 matches at major tournaments.
Die Mannschaft have averaged 69% possession over their first four fixtures – the highest ratio of all Euro 2016 teams – and are also the only nation yet to concede a goal at this summer’s competition. With Gomez now scoring 21 goals in his last 27 starts for the Germans, the world champions are looking strong.
Meanwhile, Italy produced a passionate and tactically superior display to end Spain’s quest for a third consecutive European Championship title, winning their last-16 encounter 2-0.
Using wing-backs Mattia de Sciglio and Alessandro Florenzi to brilliant effect, the Azzurri were the more potent attacking team and the scoreline could have been a lot worse for Spain were it not for a series of outstanding saves by David De Gea.
Italy played with an intensity and fierce determination that hinted at their ambition to avenge their 4-0 defeat in the 2012 final.
Giorgio Chiellini – part of an all-Juventus back three with Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli – said before the match that it would be settled by the small details and his side played like a team that left nothing to chance.
The speed with which Italy – playing 3-5-2 – transitioned from defence to attack and made the most of wide areas was something their opponents could not contend with.
The Spanish could not pass their way through a superbly organised Italian side and did not have the pace to get around the edges.
“Worst In Years”
Antonio Conte’s charges have now kept five clean sheets in their last six outings with their 1-0 loss to Ireland the only goal in which they’ve conceded at Euro 2016. For that fixture, the Azzurri made eight changes to rest and rotate.
Italy’s cautious, counter-attacking style is perfectly suited to taking on the biggest teams and with a 2-0 triumph over Belgium in the group-stages also impressing, the Azzurri have certainly silenced the doubters who described this team as the “worst Italian side in years”.
The aforementioned reverse to the Republic of Ireland was one of only four losses Italy have suffered in their last 31 competitive games going back to the last Euros and with that in mind, keeping the Italians onside looks the most shrewd proposition with 7/10 on Italy in the Double Chance market standing out.
Focus solely on tournaments and Germany have shipped just one goal in their last nine games
That came in the 7-1 humiliation of Brazil at the World Cup, and with Italy outstandingly organised at the back, a goal-fest looks unlikely.
Knockout European Championship matches between 1996 and 2012 have produced an average of just 1.90 goals-per-game with 45% of quarter-finals ties concluding with Under 1.5 Goals and 70% failing to breach the two-goal line – this contest could well follow the trends. Under 1.5 Goals is offered at 11/8.
Germany’s horrible historical record against Italy makes the world champions a less than appealing prospect for this quarter-final clash and with the Azzurri impressing against the odds against squads stocked with talent, keeping the underdogs onside in a low-scoring match should pay dividends.
Italy double chance @ 7/10
Under 1.5 Goals @ 11/8
*Prices correct at time of publication.