Spain booked their place in the Euro 2012 last night thanks in part to Ronaldo’s cunning plan not to take a penalty until it wasn’t needed. Now Germany and Italy meet with the other place up for grabs. Previously I would have snarkily said ‘they’re playing for the right to get a beating from Spain’, but after last night, I’m not so sure. It’s two of Europe’s mega-reliable stereotypes, so
I’ll be here for the duration of the evening to bring all the latest developments and bitchy comments you’ll need to keep up to date. As long as you don’t measure enjoyment based on spelling accuracy, it should be great craic. Feel free to give me a shout with you’re views on life in the comments section below or if that’s not ‘trendy’ and ‘hip’ enough for you, you can always use our @PaddyPowerBlog Twitter account.
FULL TIME: Germany 1 – 2 Italy
9.50pm: The odds are already in for the Euro 2012 Final. Spain are the favourites, but not by the margin you might have expected when the tournament began. It’s 8/15 Spain, 6/4 Italy.
That’s about all from me tonight. Thanks for reading and rest assured, I’m working on the typos.
9.46pm: The RTE panel begin a socio-economic analysis of Italy and Italian football. Kind of. It’s more the kind of socio-economic analysis you’d see scribbled on a beer-mat.
9.40pm: Italy celebrate, well except for Balotelli who still looks like he’s just been told his goldfish has died. It was a solid defensive display from Italy and they were very precise when the opportunity to counter attack game along. The finishing was a bit crap in the second half.
Germany just couldn’t get going. Aside from the first 20 minutes or so, they couldn’t get their dynamic passing and movement game going.
9.38pm: FULL TIME! Just when it looks like the Germans are going to have one last hoof towards the penalty area, they play the free-kick short and the referee takes the opportunity to blow the whistle.
9.37pm: Crazy scenes as Neuer turns into Germany’s midfield playmaker. Hummels gets booked for being a bit mouthy.
9.36pm: GOAL! Ozil keeps his cool to beat Buffon. Two minutes of added time to go.
9.35pm: Hold on to your hats! Penalty to Germany for handball by Balzaretti.
9.34pm: A great chance for Hummels goes to waste. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it hit Buffon and was cleared for a corner. Neuer goes up for the corner, which results in nothing, not even a comedy scamper back to the goal.
9.33pm: Yellow card for Motta who tries to rearrange Schweinsteiger’s knees.
9.29pm: Some Carragher-esque defending from Balzaretti, except for the fact he can actually run. He gets a last second block in just as Reus was about to strike from about eight yards out.
9.27pm: Daniele De Rossi gets booked. I’d like to think it’s for having a beard that’s just too awesome, but it’s mainly for tripping up Schweinsteiger.
9.26pm: Di Natale misses a gilt-edged chance to seal the deal. He waddles into the penalty area, allows the defender to get back and his rushed shot goes narrowly wide.
9.25pm: Now more Italians are slipping when in good positions. This time Di Natale. It’s like the first week of Dancing On Ice.
9.23pm: The Germans’ aerial bombardment isn’t gettng much success and it’s the Italians playing the nicer football and carving out the better openings. Diamanti gets himself into a great position, but his untimely slip kind of wastes the opportunity.
9.19pm: GREAT CHANCE! Marchiso misses another excellent chance for Italy. He’s about ten yards out to the right of Neuer’s goal, but he hooks his shot wide.
9.16pm: There’s some laudable huffing and puffing from the Germans, but not much end product. The draw is now 9/1 which would seem to be their only hope of prolonging their interest in the tournament.
9.15pm: SUB! Now it’s Germany’s turn for the last roll of the dice. Thomas Muller comes on and Jerome ‘walking tattoo parlour’ Boateng comes off.
9.13pm: SUB! Italy extract the most possible time out of their final substitution as Balotelli hobbles off. Antonio Di Natale comes on with just over 20 minutes to go.
9.11pm: GREAT CHANCE! Italy have a great chance to put this one to bed, but from about 20 yards out, slices his shot narrowly wide. Balotelli goes down with a bad case of tactical cramp.
9.10pm: Diamanti tries to lob Neuer from about 40 yards out. Judging by how Neuer caught it at about waist height, ten yards off his line, it wasn’t that threatening.
9.09pm: Italy now seem to be playing the lesser known 8-1-1 formation.
9.07pm: ANOTHER SUB! Montolivo comes off as Italy batten down the hatches even more. Thiago Motta comes on to assist the defensive effort.
9.04pm: YELLOW CARD! It’s for Leonardo Bonucci and it’s a fair cop as he did kick Kroos in the shins. Reus hits the free-kick, but Buffon and the crossbar combine to keep it out.
9.01pm: SUB! Italy make their first change. Cassano comes off and Diamanti replaces him as Cesare Prandelli makes his team a little mire Cattenaccio.
9pm: Great last ditch tackle from Bonucci to take the ball away from Klose just as he was about to pull the trigger. That’s not a deliberate war reference.
8.57pm: Loew is up and patrolling his ridiculously large technical area. He looks like he’s thinking hard about the game, but I suspect he’s really just thinking about how to pick his nose and get away with it.
8.53pm: Lahm misses a great chance! Some neat passing around the edge of the area gives him a clear shot of goal 18 yards out, but he Jonny Wilkinsons it right over the middle of the crossbar. That might explain the mystery of why he’s a full-back.
8.51pm: Reus nearly has an immediate impact. He jinks in from the right hand side, but his shot is scuffed and Buffon saves it handily enough. It was a poor shot, but far better than anything Podolski managed.
8.49pm: Even though he’s only the fourth official, Howard Webb milks his brief moment in the spotlight. Germany make two substations. Marco Reus comes on for the very ineffective Podolski and more surprisingly, Miroslav Klose comes on for Mario Gomez. Germany kick off the second half.
8.47pm: Germany are 4/6 to score the 3rd goal. As so many cliches tell us, that’s going to be crucial.
8.44pm: Over on the BBC, Gianluca Vialli tells us:
Pirlo is doing what an American Football quarter-back does. He is dropping deep, looking for space and finding the runs of the forwards. And then he goes and shags the head cheerleader. BOOM!
I made up some of that quote too be honest.
8.40pm: What’s that sound? Oh, it’s the sound of tunes being changed in the RTE studio. In 45 short minutes, Italy have gone from hopeless amateurs to world-beaters. And all of a sudden, Germany aren’t as utterly amazing as they were before kick-off.
8.33pm: HALF TIME! Well, well, well. Not many people can have been expecting that. Despite his excellent first half brace, Mario Balotelli walks off the pitch looking like someone who’s told him there’s surprisingly little lesbian porn action in women’s prisons. It’s hard work being an enigma.
8.32pm: On the sidelines, Jogi Loew is looking worried. Stylish, but worried.
8.22pm: GOAL! ITALIA! Some classic Italian counter-attacking from Italy puts them two up. The Italians defend a corner, Montolivio plays a great ball over the top to Balotelli who slams the ball into the top right hand corner of the net. No chance Neuer thanks largely to a non-existent defence. He gets booked for showing his pecs, but he’s probably not too bothered.
8.20pm: Boateng puts a good ball into the Italian penalty area, but it’s cut out before Podolski gets to miss it. Italy go down the other end and Balotelli plays in Montolivo. It’s a great chance about 10 yards out, but he moves with all the speed of the Tinman with no oil and Germany clear. Germany respond with a long range shot and I can’t be a smart-ass because Balotelli just scored a cracker!
8.17pm: Fabio Cannavaro has been on Twitter announcing his delight. He says:
Po po’ po’ po,po’,po po poooooooo po’ po’ po’ po po’ pooooooooo……:-)
Sadly, Google Translate is going to be feck all use to me on that one. I’m guessing he stepped in some dog crap. Any other explanations are welcome.
8.13pm: Ozil with a shot saved by Buffon. It’ll get called a shot in the match stats, but back in the day we would have called it ‘a back pass.’ Ask your parents if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.
8.12pm: After an uncertain opening period, it’s looking a lot better for Italy now. Andrea Pirlo can’t help but look pleased at how the game is going:
8.09pm: That’s changed the odds in the live betting, but despite going behind, no-one is dismissing the chances of the Germans prematurely. 9/4 Germany, 13/10 Italy and 2/1 the draw.
8.07pm: GOAL! ITALIA! Lovely play from Cassano who, after beating a German on the left hand side of the penalty area, floats a great ball onto the head of Balotelli who powers it beyond Neuer and strangely doesn’t make any bizarre gestures by way of celebration.
8.04pm: Italy have their first shot on target as Montolivo hits one low to Neuer’s right from 20 yards. It’s not quick enough or far enough to the right as the German goalie saves it. Seconds later Cassano has a pop at the left hand side of the goal which Neuer also snaffles with minimal butter-fingers.
7.59pm: The Italians are looking very shaky and un-Italian at the moment. Any second now they’ll start saying giving undue attention to your physical appearance is transparent superficiality and extra-marital affairs are wrong. Buffon gets away with another shaky moment, pushing the ball against the legs of his defender before it squirms out for a German corner. It all leads to a shot from Toni Kroos that Buffon bats away.
7.55pm: Pirlo looks threatening, but the danger is averted as the German midfield close him down and don’t let him do whatever he wants. If only England had thought of that.
7.51pm: OFF THE LINE! Crap football all round. A crap corner doesn’t get claimed by Buffon and Hummels scuffs a shot towards goal. Pirlo provides the only not crap moment of the sequence by successfully clearing it off the line.
7.50pm: A half chance for Italy, but Neuer cuts out the through ball before Balotelli can waste it.
7.48pm: Countdown time and Italy begin the match by kicking off and playing right to left. Or left to right. Or near to further away. Depends on where your seats are.
7.45pm: Team captains, Phillip Lahm and Gigi Buffon exchange mini-souvenir pennants and tips on personal grooming in the centre circle.
7.42pm: A now it’s time for the respect message from both captains – or as it’s more commonly known – ‘opportunity to make a quick cuppa’ time.
7.41pm: When you see the German team from chest up wearing those white Adidas tops, they do rather look like some ‘friendly’ junkies who used to hang around at the shops near my house.
7.39pm: The teams are out on the pitch and the mumbling of the national anthems will begin soon. Mario Balotelli looks especially distant as the camera pans across. You can almost hear him thinking ‘what utterly mental thing will I do tonight?’
7.35pm: Not long to go now and I know there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind – ‘do you have any YouTube footage of some kind of tropical bird singing the national anthem of one of these teams?’ Never fear. Yes. Yes I do.
7.25pm: I spoke to Robbie Fowler earlier today and – apart from telling me to ask less crap questions – he told me that Germany should win this game fairly comfortably.
7.22pm: After last night’s game went to penos, it could be another nerve-racking night for Manuel Neuer in the German goal. He’s looking relaxed however after receiving some good news in the build-up to the big game:
7.14pm: The RTE panel said something or other there. I wasn’t really listening to be honest. I think someone said the game might be tighter than people expect. The odds disagree, with the Match Betting telling us Germany are strong faovurites to progress at 5/6, Italy the outsiders at 15/4 and the Draw is the Mammy Bear in the middle at 5/2
7.06pm: Team News
Right, Liam Brady is currently giving his opinion on something on RTE, so it’s great team to do something other than listen to him. The teams have been confirmed and Germany have reverted to a more familiar line-up than the one that turned up for their freebie win over Greece. Gomez, Podolski and Kroos all start and Klose, Rues (and by extension, Tomas Muller) and Schurrle are on bench-warming duty.
Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil, Podolski, Gomez
Cesare Prandelli hasn’t sprung any surprises. Balotelli starts and Chiellini returns after injury with Abate missing out. Daniele De Rossi plays despite injury concerns, adding bite and a fantastic beard to Italy’s midfield.
Buffon, Balzaretti, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Pirlo, Marchisio, Montolivo, De Rossi, Balotelli, Cassano
7.01pm: It’s amazing to think a team as hard to write off as the Germans have NEVER beaten Italy in a competitive match. It’s actually a subject of national shame on a par with … well … you know … that which we cannot mention …
David Hasselhoff having four Top Ten hits in the German pop charts. *Shudder*
6.51pm: A big hello and e-welcome everybody!
There’s early disappointment for fans of the unfounded rumour as Mario Gomez does start for Germany. German story-maker-upper, Bild had earlier confidently predicted that Miroslav Klose would start.
Shows you can’t believe every rumour you hear. Maybe it’s time to rethink how I view that ‘Prince Harry’s real dad is actually Justin Beiber’ gossip I recently read on the Financial Times message boards.
I’ll have full team news the moment I can copy and paste it from somewhere else.