Germany have been fantastic so far at Euro 2012. What impresses me most is the confidence running through the squad. To be able to change three key players for a European Championship quarter-final and for the team to still perform as well as they did against Greece is remarkable. They did concede two goals, but that was at a point when the game was won, so I wouldn’t read too much into that. The professionalism and ability to navigate tournament football you always associate with Germany is still there and when it’s combined with the talent of this generation of players, it sets some high standards. They seem to be getting better in every single game.
It took penalties for Italy to beat England, but it was obvious to everybody who the better team was. It was a strange game. With a couple of great chances in the first few minutes, it looked like it was going to be a cracking end to end game, but Italy dominated and apart from some brief spells, England didn’t offer much. They won’t be able to dominate the Germans in the same way. I wonder how they’ll approach Germany. They were happy to have a go at England, but for this one, Prandelli might look at reverting to having his players sit deeper and counter-attack. They’re playing good football and in Andrea Pirlo, they’ve got a Player of the Tournament candidate. I wasn’t expecting much from Italy, but they’ve surprised me and I do like watching them at the moment.
Again, Mario Balotelli is a name on a lot of people’s lips and not necessarily for the right reasons. He has managed one goal from 21 attempts at the tournament and you’d expect a better return from a player of his quality. Plus you get the impression he’s never far away from boiling over. He caused England problems, but there times when he also looked a bit laboured. His temperament is always going to be suspect and it’s possibly not what you want in a game like a European Championship semi-final, but Prandelli clearly has some faith in him and his ability to pull something out of the bag make him worth including from the start.
I’ve been tipping Germany for the tournament from a long way out and although I’ve been impressed by Italy, that’s not going to change. I can’t see Germany getting beaten. They’re too powerful, pacey and professional to mess it up. Maybe they don’t have too many outstanding individuals, but they’re a solid team. My one concern is Jerome Boateng at right back, but he’s the only notable weakness in the team.
I can’t look beyond Mario Gomez to score the first goal at 9/2. He had the luxury of being rested in the last game and now with two possible games left in his season, I’m sure we’re going to get a huge effort from him. He’s been in good form, we know Germany will create chances and he’ll put at least one of them away against Italy.
I’m going for Germany to win 2-0 at 7/1. Italy created some good chances against England and didn’t score. They won’t manufacture many chances against this German team and I don’t think they’ll get on the scoresheet. The Germans are just too strong to let an opportunity like this slip through their fingers.