Today at Euro 2012: Germany v Italy
Thursday 28 June 2012
The Germany defender Benedikt Höwedes believes Italy's early struggles against England in Sunday's quarter-final gives his side hope of breaching a defence that has conceded just four goals in 14 competitive matches.
"Italy are a good team, who also have some very good individuals," the 24-year-old Schalke captain said. "That the Italians are good defensively is well known. But we have also seen that England came close to scoring several times and Italy are vulnerable. The Italians are beatable."
Joachim Löw's side have not failed to score in 20 matches and are the only country to have won all of their matches in this year's tournament. They enter tonight's match at the National Stadium in Warsaw as favourites to make a second consecutive appearance in a European Championship final.
"Maybe we're not quite at the level that we have shown before," Höwedes added. "Nevertheless, we have played well and are worthy of our semi-final place."
The 4-2 quarter-final victory over Greece stretched Germany's world-record winning streak in competitive matches to 15 and Löw's side are seeking to avenge the sides' last competitive meeting. Italy, who would go on to win the trophy, prevailed in the last four of the World Cup in 2006, late extra-time goals by Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero taking Marcello Lippi's side through.
Germany are expected to make changes from the side that overcame Greece last Friday, with Lukas Podolski likely to come back in for André Schürrle on the left of midfield and Thomas Müller is pushing for a recall over Marco Reus. Miroslav Klose could lose his place up front to Mario Gomez, while Bastian Schweinsteiger (ankle) has been passed fit but Ilkay Gündogan (ankle) is a doubt.
Italy have problems in defence for tonight's match, with Christian Maggio suspended and Giorgio Chiellini and Ignazio Abate injury concerns. Daniele De Rossi is also a doubt in midfield.
Kick-off 7.45pm, Warsaw (BBC1)
Referee S Lannoy (Fr)
Odds Germany 7-2; Draw 12-5; Italy 10-11
Suspended Maggio, Italy
Player to watch: Marco Reus, Germany
When Joachim Löw dropped Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller for two youngsters against Greece, he was accused of complacency. Whether or not Löw keeps the same team tonight, or only uses the excellent 23-year-old Marco Reus to unpick Italy's defence from the bench, his decision for the quarter-final was clearly vindicated.
Because it was not an insult – it was an improvement. Reus and the 21-year-old André Schürrle came in and took Greece apart. In Germany's sharpest attacking performance so far they won 4-2 and could have scored twice as many.
"Rolls" Reus was brilliant. Cutting in from the right, his movement was smart and his touch was perfect. He was involved in most of Germany's best moves and he got the goal his performance deserved, slamming the fourth in on the volley.
His performance should not have seemed a surprise. Reus has been excellent for three seasons at Borussia Mönchengladbach, dragging them from a relegation play-off in 2011 to a Champions League play-off in 2012. Borussia Dortmund, champions for the last two seasons, have bought him for €17.5m (£14m) as a replacement for the Manchester United-bound Shinji Kagawa. No one would now deny it is his natural level.
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