Germany’s return to form in the final third against Slovakia sent out an ominous message to their Euro 2016 rivals, but will the obliteration of a tournament small fry in the last-16 instil the confidence to shake their almighty Azzurri hoodoo?
Given their place in the pantheon of great footballing nations, it’s quite incredible to think die Mannschaft have never managed to beat Italy in a competitive game of football.
It’s a cherry they’ve had plenty of bites at too – eight to be precise – yet the sugar-loaded red fruit remains intact.
Their most recent meeting in which spoils were at stake came in the 2012 edition of this competition, where a heavily-fancied German outfit were blown away by a Mario Balotelli-inspired Italy at the semi-final stage.
It was a result that provided yet more proof of how their Italian hex is one that has transcended generations, with many of the side that fell at the penultimate hurdle four years ago in contention to feature against Antonio Conte’s men here.
Holger Badstuber and Phillip Lahm aside, each member of the Germany team that succumbed to the Azzurri in Warsaw could begin when the pair contest the third of Euro 2016’s quarter-finals, with all except Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski near-guaranteed a place in the XI.
Not only are the current crop caught in a mental wrangle with one of the beautiful game’s longest-standing curses, the task of Jogi Low’s troops has been complicated further by the fact that, this time, they collide with an on-song Italy.
Ahead of their previous competitive renewal, the underdogs had won just one Euro 2012 match inside regulation time, which came with a heavy dollop of mitigation due to the opponent it was recorded against: a hapless Republic of Ireland.
They’re without doubt this summer’s master odds upsetters and any punter must take this on board before backing Germany.
Win, Lose or Draw?
Widely held opinions regard this Italy squad as a long way short of meeting the gold standard established by more prestigious forebears in terms of quality, but Conte’s men have routinely made a mockery of what people think since proceedings got underway in France.
Bookies made a killing off the legions of Belgium backers ahead of their opening match against the Azzurri, who put on a tactical masterclass to nullify their fancied foes’ numerous threats and simultaneously exploit what turned out to be quite glaring weaknesses.
It was a result that jolted the wager-makers to attention; no longer was their second match against Sweden a potential banana skin, it was a cast iron banker for the boys in blue.
But Italy laboured in that game, requiring a very late winner from Eder to secure a scarcely-deserved 1-0 victory.
Expectancy dictated they’d field a weakened team against the Republic of Ireland, which they duly did, but the consensus also envisioned an easy win for the Group E winners. Wrong again.
A last-16 date with Spain followed their Eire mishap, with the bookies once again installing Italy as underdogs against a star-studded outfit. An unpredictably dominant display massively undermined that notion, ensuring the oddsmakers trousered another fortune at the same time at the bettors’ expense.
Germany haven’t so much as conceded a goal in this tournament to date and the vigour with which they ripped into Slovakia’s soft underbelly last time out was characteristic of a team hungry for silverware. On top of that, they’ve never lost a quarter final at a major competition. Oh, and they ran out 4-1 victors when the sides met in a March friendly too.
The world champions are quite rightly favourites here, but that won’t stop the Italian odds-defiance specialists.
Recommended bet: Italy to qualify @ 7/5
When these two meet, goals are the usual by-product.
The majority of their 21st century duels (four of seven) have fallen under the 2.5-goal threshold, but all bar two have seen both teams score.
It was 2-1 to Italy when they last threw down in a competitive capacity and the Azzurri second string’s aforementioned loss to Ireland was the first time in 14 in which they failed to find the net.
As for the Germans, they’ve chewed on one bagel since losing 2-0 to France last November.
Recommended bet: Italy to win & over 2.5 goals @ 27/4
Who’s Going To Score?
Graziano Pelle leads the scoring charts for Italy with two goals in the tournament.
The bronzed beanpole has an impressive strike rate for his country, with seven strikes to show for his 16 caps.
Six of these have been the final goal of the match, with two of his Euros efforts coming in injury time.
Recommended bet: Pelle to score last @ 13/2
As stated, Germany are yet to concede a goal in France, but in light of the news.bwin tipsters lumping on an Italy win & over 2.5 goals, that’s soon to change.
However, they’ve scored at least one first half goal in all but one of their four outings so far, while their inevitable vanquishers have inflicted a single blow before the break in the two matches where they’ve registered on multiple occasions.
At 7/1, a 1-1 first half correct score looks good, but a late Italy registration is a superior offering.
The score keep has been hassled inside the final 15 minutes in each of their games to date, three times courtesy of a player in blue.
Recommended bet: Italy to score over 0.5 goals between 75:01 and Full Time @ 17/5