Germany look to end 16 year Italian streak

When you think of a match between Germany and Italy, it is easy to cast your mind back to 2006 in which the host nation was convincingly defeated by a superbly organised and efficient Azzurri squad. The Germans have yet to overcome that fateful day in Dortmund and are hoping that this friendly, also being played in Dortmund, will allow them a chance to redeem themselves. However, the odds are against them as Germany has not beaten Italy in 16 years.
This will not be an easy task for the Azzurri. Despite the low average age of the squad, the Nationalmannschaft are not without experience and have had ample time to adapt, enhancing their squad chemistry day by day. Meanwhile the Italians, who boast a similar average age, are undergoing a revolution under new Coach Cesare Prandelli and are still working on finding an identity.
The home team are likely to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation. In contrast to Italy, the Germans’ strength lies in their midfield. They have an abundance of creative talent and physical strength and each and every player present is capable of a defence splitting pass. Bastian Schweinsteiger, the midfield director, will reprise his role as a holding midfielder – a role he admits he prefers to the attacking role he has been asked to play by Louis van Gaal. Meanwhile, the creative three ahead of him, including the brilliantly crafty Mesut Özil, the man behind many of Real Madrid’s clever plays this season, will attempt to break through the Italian back-line. However, all eyes will be on Mario Götze, the 18-year-old attacking midfielder who is likely to come on in the second half. If you witnessed his performance for Borussia Dortmund in their win against Mainz, you will understand that the teenager presents a huge threat to the young Azzurri defence and is yet another future German star in the making.
Interestingly, Germany Coach Joachim Löw decided not to call up another striker to replace the injured Mario Gómez, so effectively he can count on only one real striker in Miroslav Klose. Despite his limited club appearances this term, the player somehow transforms into a world class forward when playing for his country. In defence, no less than six central defenders have been called up and Löw is yet to decide on a partnership. However, Per Mertesacker has been confirmed in defence much to the dismay of the German fans considering his sluggishness at the back
As for the Italians, Prandelli will opt for a 4-3-1-2 formation, playing the sensational ex-Sampdoria duo upfront. Aware of the little time the squad has spent together, the Coach will rely on fielding players who already have the experience of working with one another. The defence, boasting an average age of 24.5 years, will be the most interesting area to watch as the ex-Bari central defenders Andrea Ranocchia and Leonardo Bonucci will reunite once again to put their contrasting talent to good use. Giorgio Chiellini, who struggled as left-back for Juventus against Cagliari, will reprise the role of his early career.
The midfield that includes new recruit Thiago Motta has been set-up in order to counter the strength of Germany and thus seems to be defensive in its nature. Considering the full-backs chosen, it is hard to imagine how the Azzurri can cause offensive pressure. However, judging by the players on the bench, hopefully Prandelli will then use the second half to experiment.
If history has taught us anything it is that a match pitting Europe’s two strongest teams against one another will surely be entertaining.

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