Preview: Germany v Italy

The World Cup semi final between Germany and Italy will no doubt see another dramatic chapter added to the footballing history between the two countries.

Clash of the titans: Klinsmann (l) and Lippi (r)
Clash of the titans: Klinsmann (l) and Lippi (r)

The sides have met 28 times before with Italy holding a 13 -7 lead in victories over all, and within those are two of special significance.

The semi final in 1970 between the two nations is regarded as one of the greatest games ever at a World Cup finals.

Played at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico, Italy won 4-3 due to an extra time winner from Gianni Rivera. But fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about a similar goal fest.

“It won’t be anything like Mexico in 1970,” said Gigi Riva, Italy’s team manager and goal scorer on that day.
“There’s so much at stake and I expect it to be much, much tighter.”

Key figures: Franceso Totti (l) and Michael Ballack (r)

Key figures: Franceso Totti (l) and
Michael Ballack (r)

Riva believes victory on Tuesday will have a special significance due to the controversy surrounding the Italian camp and the match fixing allegations at home.

“This game is more important than the one at the Azteca because it comes at a time when our football has taken a real bashing,” he said.
“From the first day that we got the squad together, it seemed as if we were on a boat that was being pounded by missiles and torpedos every day.
“But we regrouped, and (coach Marcello) Lippi has unified the players.”


However, the scandals back in Italy are a strange omen as the last time the side lifted the trophy there were similar problems with the domestic league.

The 1982 tournament saw the Azzuri prevail and it was the Germans whom they defeated 3-1 in the final.

Superstitious Italians may believe they are meeting them one match too early.

The hosts who are enjoying massive support at home will also remember the pounding their side took after being destroyed by Italy 4-1 in a friendly in Florence in March.

The press who now revere manager Jurgen Klinsman were calling for his head and it is a fact not lost on the team.

Down memory lane: A scene from
the 1982 final

“We have lost several times to Italy over the years and have a score to settle,” said midfielder Torsten Frings, who is suspended for the match.
“Of course we all remember the 4-1; but I do not think we need to get too worried about that.
“It was a catastrophic performance from us. But I am 100 percent convinced that it will not happen again.”
Injury worries

Despite their poor record against the Italians, the Germans have taken a lot of confidence from their five consecutive wins – a new record for Germany at an individual final – and believe that now is the time for their first victory over Italy in 11 years.

“The team has grown over the last six weeks and it is a team which is saying they can be world champions,” Klinsmann said.
“We have taken a giant step but there are two more to take to reach our target.”

The Germans have no injury worries going into the match, but have lost Frings through suspension following a brawl after the penalty shoot-out with Argentina.

Their opponents are likely to be without defender Alessandro Nesta again after he failed to recover from a groin strain.

Both sides have three World Cup stars on their jersey, the winner here gets the chance to add a fourth.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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