Euro 2016 quarter-finals: Astute Italy can outwit German juggernauts
Holly Thackeray | June 30, 2016
Germany v Italy
- Euro 2016 quarter-finals
- Saturday, July 2nd
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
- Live on BBC One
Azzurri eyeing continuation of excellent Germany record
Italy are unbeaten against upcoming Euro 2016 quarter-final foes Germany (including West Germany wrangles) in eight major tournament meetings, which makes the Azzurri an excellent 14/5 price with Coral to triumph in normal time on Saturday evening.
Half of those frays on big stages ended evenly, and customers can opt for that outcome in 90 minutes again at 19/10, but what makes this encounter so intriguing is that when it comes to the crunch both teams bring out their best.
Die Mannscahft are 13/10 favourites to finish off the tie in normal time. But, this match has the makings of one that goes all the way, with the result after 75 minutes rated 6/4 to be a draw.
Battle between the sticks
With so much individual quality from Joachim Low’s lads and an unrivalled organisation and team spirit in Antonio Conte’s Italian camp, it is tough to see where the winning edge will come from.
It could certainly come down to which country can constrict the other and there are none at this tournament to have displayed the art of defending better than Italy.
The Azzurri boast indomitable and evergreen Gianluigi Buffon in net and are 17/4 for a victory to nil, or a generous 4/1 to win by exactly one goal.
Having dispatched reigning champions of Europe Spain with no reply, and conceded just one goal when Buffon was rested, Conte’s crew can surely see the throne in sight.
Hoping to stall the inspired Azzurri though, will be Germany number one Manuel Neuer, with Die Mannschaft a shorter 6/5 to deny their opponents and keep a fifth consecutive competition clean sheet.
Germany are no slouches when it comes to defending, but may find it much tougher to breach Italy’s backline, with their opposition masters at patient play.
Unless Low and co curb their natural attacking enthusiasm, the Italians are likely to find an answer on the counter, with their regular first-choice XI yet to yield and 31/20 to score the last goal of the game.
Defensive determination and a willingness to sacrifice for the cause could come at a cost for Conte’s men, however, with lynchpins Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini (both already cautioned this competition) 9/4 and 7/4 respectively to be shown a card.
Germany just getting started?
There has been the overwhelming feeling that France has not seen the best of world champions Germany so far, bar a brilliant thrashing of Slovakia last time out.
Italy are an entirely different prospect, so a significant step up in form is still required despite a ferocious and flattering result against Eastern European opposition.
Low will be looking for more of the same here, and has reason to be optimistic after seeing his side dismantle the Azzurri 4-1 in a friendly back on their own patch as recently as March.
Apparent Manchester United target Julian Draxler provided a touch of magic from the wings, but will find his haul of a goal and assist against the Slovaks a much tougher ask to repeat here. Still, the Wolfsburg wideman showed sublime skill with his stunning volley and is 10/3 to bag anytime in this battle of Bordeaux.
Cult hero Mario Gomez has hit two in as many of his last matches in German colours, and is a 6/1 shout to open scoring, with a strangely quiet Thomas Muller 6/4 to get off the mark anytime. The Bayern Munich marksman’s ability to pop up from nowhere, even when under-performing or on the fringes of a fray, could be a game turner.
Italy to be opportunistic again
While Italy certainly know how to bunker down and ride out waves of pressure, it would be unfair to call them defensive-minded, as throughout their La Roja rumble they looked most threatening.
Germany have had an unusual tendency to look toothless of late and it is something the Azzurri, much more ruthless with their chances, can certainly exploit. As far as tacticians go, Conte may not have a World Cup winners’ medal in his cabinet, but is arguably much more creative than his German counterpart.
There have been scorers from all over the pitch for Italy so far, and surprise midfield show-runner Emanuele Giaccherini was hugely unlucky not to add a second strike to his tournament tally against Spain, so looks a shout at 7/1 to get on the scoresheet again.
Goal gobbler Graziano Pelle has a penchant for adding the final say to proceedings, with both his goals so far last-gasp, so opt for the Southampton striker at 6/1 to ripple the net last once more.
Pelle’s strike partner Eder Citadin Martins (2/1 to tuck away anytime) also has goals in him, while Bonucci (16/1) and Chiellini (9/1) could prove set-piece threats against a German defence that often looks fancy when on the front foot but may not stand up to intelligent Italian inquisition.
Coral’s top tip: Why not plump for Pelle at 6/1 to strike last again?