Germany defeat Italy on penalties to proceed through to the European Championship semi-finals, meaning Italy boss Antonio Conte will be making his way to Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks.
A strong start from Germany in the first half as they dominate possession and chances in the first half, leaving Italy frustrated and at times under pressure.
Germany started the game confidently, with crisp, rhythmic passing. However, Italy are not down and out. In-fact by the confidence Italy showed when they got the ball makes it seem that Germany were falling into Conte’s carefully laid plans.
Kimmich on Germany’s right wing saw a lot of action in the first half. Despite the possession Germany had in the first half, they did not work Buffon very hard. The only time the Italian legend seemed at all challenged in the first 45 was when Schweinsteiger had a goal disallowed. It was the correct decision. Hummels drove an angled pass into the box, and Schweinsteiger shoved De Sciglio over before heading past Buffon.
The game at this stage seems more like a duel between Low and Conte. Italy played the first half very defensively and tactically, allowing the Germans possession. Whereas, Germany played aggressively and skilfully making use of the crossing and passing skills of their midfielders. Conte’s strong defensive mindset will fit in well at Chelsea.
Italy almost took the lead on the stroke of half-time. A wonderful long pass from Bonucci found Giaccherini on the left of the box, a very similar ball to the one that led to the first goal against Belgium. Giaccherini almost overrans it but manages to cut it back across the face of goal. Eventually it went to Sturaro, whose first-time shot hit Boateng and deflected just wide of the far post with Neuer beaten.
The game opened up more in the second half with Germany beginning to pile on the pressure. Italy conceded 3 yellow cards in the first 15 minutes of the half and Germany actually got some shots on goal. Muller, blasted a left-footed shot towards the far post from just inside the box. Florenzi’s momentum took him past the line of the ball but he improvised brilliantly to produce a kind of flying kick to divert it wide of the post – spectacular defending.
In the 64th minute, Germany finally found a way through. Gomez broke down the left, waited patiently for support and then played a fine pass infield to the underlapping Hector. His cross deflected off an Italian defender and Ozil, arriving late at the near post, swept a first-time half-volley past Buffon from eight yards.
However, Italy were not to be kept down. An Italian corner lead to Boateng making an absurd handball giving Italy a penalty. Boateng was marking Chiellini, and attacked the ball while his hands stupidly high in the air. Bonucci, hit the penalty precisely into the bottom-right corner. Neuer went the right way but was nowhere near. The first penalty of Bonucci’s career and it was a beauty!
After Italy’s goal momentum turned starkly in their favour, and they began creating chances. However, the game fizzles out in the last 5 and the game is forced into extra time.
In extra-time Pelle was booked inside the first minute for planting his studs into Boateng’s Achilles tendon.The break worked in Germany’s favour, and they began passing like they did in the first half again. However, Italy still looked relatively comfortable defensively.
Italy fans will feel robbed of a free kick. That is ridiculous. Giaccherini was clearly fouled on the edge of the area, falls over and in the process handles the ball. The referee books him, either for diving or handball. Giaccherini was one of the few remaining Italians not on a yellow card, and he was fuming at the ref’s decision.
In the 109 min Germany boke three-on-three through Draxler, who runs 50 yards but then overhit a fairly simple through pass to Muller, ruining the best chance of the game
Five minutes later Muller wins a foul from Chiellini on the right wing, going down easily. Chiellini gives Muller a nod as he walks off. Parolo heads the free-kick clear, after a reset after too much scuffling in the box.
Moments later Ozil makes a sweet strike towards Italy’s goal however Buffon stops the ball easily. Italy then attack fof the break and almost have an opportunity, but Neuer also snuffs out any attacking opportunity.
The ref soon blews the whistle and for the first time ever Italy and Germany face eachother in penalties in a major tournament.
The penalty shootout was a tense situation that never seemed to end. At the end of 5 penalties both teams had missed two. Each team took 9 penalties each before the game was finally resolved, Darmian will go down in the hstory books as the man who missed at the wrong time for Italy. Incidentally, Muller was the first German to miss in a shoot-out for the national side since 1982!
Germany finally defeated Italy in a major tournament, and win their 7th penalty shoot-out in a row.
The World Champions now go on to face either hosts France or rising minnows Iceland.
Italy should leave the tournament with their heads held high. For ‘the worst Italian team in generations’ they gave the World Champions a run for their money. High hopes for Conte to bring his talents to Chelsea this season.
Germany 1-1 Italy
Goals: Ozil 64’, Bonucci 77
Germany: Kroos, Draxler, Hummels, Kimmich, Boetang, Hector Italy: Insigne, Barzagli, Giaccherini, Parolo , De Scilgo