Italy v Spain - EURO 2016 - Round of 16

This game pits the bookmakers’ second favorite against the fourth favorite where the winner of will set up a semi-final with France or Iceland. 

Italy will play Germany in the quarter-final of Euro 2016 on July 2 in Bordeaux. Kick off is at 3:00PM ET.

The two sides have eight World Cups and two European Championships between them and the game in southern France is likely to be another chapter in history between these massive football nations.

Italy reached the quarter-finals at the expense of reigning champions Spain and went some distance in exorcising their humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Del Bosque’s team in the Euro 2012 final.

Antonio Conte gave the onlooking continent a tactical master class as the Chelsea boss’ 3-5-2 dismantled La Roja with a surprisingly attacking mentality to reach the quarter-final. The Italians were on the front foot from the off and got what they deserved moments before the break when Georgio Chiellini pounced on a David De Gea parry to give Azzurri the lead.

A confident Italy  imposed their superiority in the dying moments when Graziano Pelle doubled the lead in a carbon copy of the goal the Southampton striker scored against Belgium.

Italy were ranked as tournament outsiders in the weeks before the Euros kicked off. However two wins from their opening games has catapulted Antonio Conte’s side among the favorites to win the competition.

Antonio Conte’s men had convincingly exposed dark horses Belgium in their opening game. Bonucci gave a defending master class and emerged as an unlikely defensive playmaker when he supplied an inch perfect pass for Emmanuelle Giaccherini for the opening goal. In the closing stages Graziano Pelle added a second on the counter-attack to bring the game to a close a 2-0.

Against Sweden, in the 89th minute, Simone Zaza stole the three points for Azzurri to net his first goal in all competitions since January. In the third and final group game, with top spot sewn up, the Italians made several personnel changes and were punished by a 87th minute Robbie Brady winner for Republic of Ireland.

Germany swept aside Slovakia 3-0 to reach the quarter-final and got going with a goal from Jerome Boateng, his first in 63 international appearances. Mario Gomes extended their lead just before half time before Julian Draxler made it three on the hour mark. Despite being against inferior opposition, the humbling of Slovakia was easily among one of the best team performances of the entire competition so far.

Boateng has starred for Germany in the tournament so far. This gives a small insight into how Die Mannschaft’s defense have performed at Euro 2016. Boateng was the man of the match on the 0-0 against Poland and hung suspended in mid air to clear the ball from the line versus Ukraine in another one of the moments of the tournament.

In their opening game against Ukraine they strolled to a 2-0 win without particularly impressing. After breaking the deadlock inside 20 minutes through deputy center back Shkodran Mustafi, Bastian Schweinsteiger hopped off the bench to make a rare cameo to put the icing on the cake with the second goal.

In their final group game Germany dominated Northern Ireland but could only manage a 1-0 victory due to the inspired performance of the Irish keeper Michael McGovern. The Ulstermen defended brilliantly but Mario Gomez was able to break the deadlock on 30 minutes.

In the history of football Italy have had the better of the 33 meetings between these two giants of world football. Of these 33 games, Azzurri have won 15 and lost eight. The remaining 10 ended in draws. Importantly, Germany have never beaten Italy at a major tournament.

Furthermore, the last two times the pair have met at a major tournament, Italy have had the last laugh. At Euro 2012 a brace from Mario Balotelli knocked out Germany in the semi-finals in Warsaw while in the semi-final at World Cup 2006, the Italians broke German hearts in Dortmund with goals in the 119th and 120th minute to secure a 2-0 victory.

The sides last met in Munich in March 2016 where goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Jonas Hector and Mesut Ozil gave the home team a resounding 4-1 victory. Stefan El Shaarawy gave the visitors a consolation with the score already at 4-0.

 

Team News

Germany

Joachim Low is likely to have a fully fit squad to choose from but for two injury concerns who are likely to be fully fit come game day. Firstly, center-back Jerome Boateng received treatment for a calf injury earlier in the week but revealed to German newspaper Kicker that he will be available.

Secondly, Jonas Hector was reportedly feeling under the weather with an unspecified virus but is also likely to be in the starting line up against Italy.

The majority of the Germany team virtually picks itself assuming Joachim Low sticks with the same 4-2-3-1 system. The only two sticking points are firstly that of the striker role. Mario Gomez’s two goals at Euro 2016 so far might have been enough to grant him a start but the Germany coach may prefer the fluidity of Mario Gotze against Italy’s experienced defense. Secondly, Gotze’s versatility could also see him edge out Julian Draxler on the wing for a start in Bordeaux.

The midfield pairing of Kroos and Khedira are two of the first names on the team sheet while Thomas Muller is still expected to be utilized on the wing.

Germany Coach Joachim low laughed off the historical record between the two teams and says Germany have nothing to be afraid of.

“We don’t fear them. We know what we can do and if we do it then we have a good chance to win it,” said the coach.

“We have never beaten them in a tournament but we have no Italy trauma,” Low said. “I do not rate the past too much.”

“They are now a different team. That’s all cold coffee. A fresh espresso is better and I hope it tastes better on Saturday,” he said, taking a sip from his own coffee.

The Germany coach led his side to a 4-1 friendly victory over Italy in March of this year but says he is not looking to much into that result and wants to see his side performing better than they have been at Euro 2016 so far.

“I think emotions from the outside are running pretty high. We were almost written off after our 0-0 [group match] against Poland. Then we win 3-0 and everything is great. Okay, we did it well… but with all due respect for our opponents, I don’t think that this victory was the measure for winning the tournament.

“What we need now is humility and modesty. Let’s keep the bar low, the ball on the ground. I have a good feeling for the weekend but we need to improve. What we have been playing is not enough to win this tournament; we have to get better.”

 Predicted Line Up: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Khedira, Kroos, Draxler, Ozil, Muller; Gomez.

 

Italy

The Italians have a few injury problems which could cause coach Antonio Conte to make a few personnel changes, although the 3-5-2 system which has served so well so far is likely to stay the same.

In the 2-0 victory over Spain the last-16 central midfield maestro Daniele de Rossi was withdrawn on 54 minutes due to injury, his replacement, Thiago Motta, then proceeded to collect his second yellow card of the tournament meaning he will be suspended for the quarter-final.

Furthermore, Antonio Candreva, who can occupy the important central midfield lynchpin role, has also missed the last two games through injury. If neither De Rossi nor Candreva can recover then Alessandro Florenzi, who has played wing-back in the absence of Candreava, could move to the middle. Florenzi also played center-midfield in the 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland.

Another option to replace de Rossi could be Stefano Sturaro. If Florenzi shifts to a central role then Federico Bernarderschi will fill in at full-back.

Italy coach Antonio Conte will wait until as late as possible before assessing the fitness of some of the injury doubts in his squad while admitting it will take a big performance from Azzurri to defeat World Champions Germany.

“Motta is suspended and that will penalize us because De Rossi has hurt his hip. We have already lost Candreva,” said Conte.

“We will look at De Rossi in the coming hours but I can’t say yet what chances he has of recovering.

“We are playing on Saturday so we have four days to recuperate. I want my players to be at 100 per cent for the game because they will have to play at 120, 130 or 140 per cent to beat Germany.”

“There are a lot of hurdles in our way but we know when the going gets tough we respond well.”

Predicted Line Up: Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Bernarderschi, Florenzi, Parolo, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Pelle, Eder.