When the quarter-final draw was complete, Germany versus Italy was immediately the stand-out fixture, but at the end of what should be a thrilling encounter, it’s Die Mannschaft who should be creeping into the last four.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it appears pretty much of all us underestimated Italy heading to France, with Antonio Conte’s men arguably the team of the tournament thus far.
Superb 2-0 wins over Belgium and Spain have shown Gli Azzurri at their best, with a squad arguably lacking the quality of previous Italian outfits.
Joachim Low’s men never got going in the group stages, but turned it on when beating Slovakia 3-0 in the last-16.
History hands the Italians the advantage in Bordeaux, with the Blues claiming four wins and four draws in eight competitive games against Germany.
However, Daniele de Rossi, who has enjoyed an Indian summer in France, is set to miss the fixture through injury, and his would-be replacement, Thiago Motta, is suspended.
Motta’s would-be stand-in, Antonio Candreva is also injured, so Conte could be forced into a potential fateful tactical reshuffle.
In a game that may well be decided by the finest margins, that could hand Germany the crucial advantage.
Some will say this fixture is deserving of more than a quarter-final title, but that’s how the dice have rolled, and it should be a fantastic fixture between two of Europe’s finest footballing nations.
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