While all four Euro 2016 quarter-finals have thrown up intriguing clashes, there’s little question that Italy v Germany is the most eagerly anticipated of the bunch.
However, while the odds suggest that Die Mannschaft are the likely winners, tactics, strikers and even history all point towards another victory for Antonio Conte’s men in this clash. Here’s why – and how – to back the men in blue.
Italy’s hitman will shine. Germany’s will flop
Both Graziano Pelle and Mario Gomez go into this game in on good form, with two strikes apiece so far at Euro 2016. But while Pelle is set to continue his ruthless goal-getting in this quarter-final, Gomez is unlikely to get a look-in.
The 30-year-old has so far preyed on the sluggish and ageing defences of Slovakia and Northern Ireland, but he’s a flat-track bully. He’s failed to score in either of his prior meetings with Gli Azzurri, or in recent games against France and Argentina, for that matter. Against a classy ball-playing defence with an ounce of pace, he’s stuck.
Contrastingly, Pelle’s pace and positioning make him a nightmare for even the continent’s toughest opponents – as does his ability to link up with the likes of Emmanuele Giaccherini and Alessandro Florenzi in the wider areas. And with Germany possessing their least imposing defence in decades, he could fill his boots.
That means there’s plenty of value in backing Pelle to score anytime and Italy to win at 6/1.
History favours Italy in this clash
In eight meetings between these two at major tournaments, Germany have never won. A few draws aside, they’ve been roundly outclassed – most recently in Euro 2012, as Mario Balotelli put them to the sword in Warsaw.
Sure, he might not be here this summer, but there’s no doubting that 2-1 victory – the latest in a long line of Italian triumphs over Die Mannschaft, will give Conte’s charges a psychological advantage going into this game.
For those considering Germany’s recent 4-1 friendly victory over this opposition as significant – forget about it. Italy are renowned for putting out half a team and putting in half-hearted performances in friendly games. When it comes down to a major tournament, they’re never bested by the Germans. That’s sure to continue, as…
Germany’s style plays into Conte’s hands
Italy are at their most comfortable when letting the opposition pass the ball, drawing opposition midfielders forward, and then hitting them ruthlessly on the counter-attack. So being drawn against Germany – a side with the competition’s highest possession stats – could well be music to the ears of Conte.
With Germany typically looking to throw men forward in search of an early goal, they could well be caught cold by their opponents – just as happened to Belgium, as Gli Azzurri produced the scintillating breakaway for Giaccherini’s opener.
And if Italy do take the lead, they simply don’t give it up. They haven’t lost a competitive game from a winning position since 2002. Score first here – as they’re likely to – and you can expect them to see out the job. At 3/1 for victory, they’re clearly the ones to watch.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.