Smart money on fresh Germany ahead of semi-final clash with Italy

After making the final in two of the past three major tournaments they have competed in, Germany are 17/20 favourites to beat Italy in normal time in their Euro 2012 semi-final.

Germany, who rested key players in their quarter-final tie with Greece, have the benefit of two extra days’ rest, as their Thursday night clash comes almost a week after they booked their place in the last four.

They completed their Friday night victory in 90 minutes, in spite of players such as Mario Gomez’s omission, meaning they will enter the semi-final refreshed and raring to go.

Their opponents, in contrast, needed penalties to overcome England on Sunday night, and must recover quickly from their lengthy exploits that night to have chances of justifying a normal time win at 7/2.

Italy’s best player in that Kiev outing was undoubtedly Andrea Pirlo, but with the playmaker aged 33, it could be a worry for Cesare Prandelli that his most integral player could easily fatigue.

Another worry for Prandelli will be the goalscoring ability of his side, who have netted only once from open play all tournament.

Of their four strikes in Poland and Ukraine, two corner kicks have led to the Italians registering, while Pirlo himself has notched directly from a free-kick.

The Germans’ stern defensive showings in defending set-plays will dishearten the Azzuri too, for whom Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano’s finishing has not been sharp enough.

Joachim Low’s side have had no such problems in front of goal meanwhile, with their haul of nine strikes the highest in the tournament so far.

They also boast the competition’s joint-top scorer in Bayern Munich striker Gomez, and the imposing striker will be eager to add to his three goals, rejuvenated from a rest in Germany’s quarter-final success over Greece.

At 2/5 to qualify by any means, the Germans look good to make a second European championship final in succession.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.