Italy knocked out England in the quarter-final of Euro 2012 to book a semi-final place against Germany. On first look you would be forgiven for thinking that most Germans would want to face England for the historical and football rivalry that such a match brings. However this is not the case. For you see Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive match and there is a rich footballing history between the two sides.
The famous “Game of the Century” in the 1970 World Cup where Italy won 4-3 to go through to the final. The World Cup final in 1982 that Italy won 3-1 and more recently at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where Italy beat the hosts 2-0 in extra-time. Overall they have met in seven competitive matches, Italy winning three times and drawing four. Clearly Italy is a bogey side for the Germans and for such a proud footballing nation the opportunity to get this monkey off their back is being welcomed. Assistant German coach Hansi Flick has said that taking of Italy is an “exciting task” and one that this German side will realism.
If you want to win trophies you have to beat the very best sides. It adds to the legacy of a side if you have to overcome huge hurdles on your way to victory. Should they beat Italy it could be viewed as overcoming one of the final barriers that face the national side. Germany’s Captain Philipp Lahm commented on the up-coming match “You think of 2006. It was the last important match against Italy. We weren’t as far (in our development) then as we are now. Our big aim is to be in the final.”
Germany v Italy could prove to be the defining moment of this German side. They have steadily progressed under Joachim Low since ’06 but for all their efficient and attacking football they have yet to win a trophy. This is the fourth straight semi-final they have reached and if they do manage to get past Italy that could fill them with the confidence to win their first title since Euro ’96.
History awaits the Germans.