Germany bids to end Italy curse
WARSAW - Reuters / Agence France-Presse
Mario Gomez the leading goal scorer for Germany in the tournament with three goals, will try to break Germany’s Italian jinx in big tournaments. AFP photoFrom the 1970 ‘match of the century’ to the 2006 summer fairytale, tournament clashes between Italy and Germany have become part of folklore and their Euro 2012 semifinal clash promises to be no different tonight.
The Germans, three-time world and European champions, go into the encounter on a 15-game winning streak in competitive matches, but knowing they have never beaten the four-time World Cup winners in seven tournament encounters.
“We will break the Italy curse,” said Germany winger Lukas Podolski, who was part of the Germany team beaten 2-0 by Italy in the 2006 World Cup semifinal. “There are opponents that are the most feared ones but we want to reach the final and hopefully Italy’s run ends with us.”
But Löw was defiant when asked about the lack of German success against the Azzurri over the years.
“We can’t turn back time, forget about it, the past doesn’t play a role in our planning,” said Löw. “Another stat is that Germany has never won against Italy in a major tournament, but so what? The situation is entirely different now and this is not an issue for us.”
‘Match of the century’
Clashes between Germany and Italy over the past decades live long in the memory, notably the 1970 World Cup semifinal in Mexico City where then European champions Italy advanced, winning 4-3 after the two sides scored a staggering five goals in extra time.
It is no surprise that a plaque at the Aztec stadium commemorates the thrilling encounter as ‘the match of the century’. The two sides met on the big stage again in the 1982 World Cup final, with the Italians winning the title.
In 2006, the Germans suffered yet another bitter moment at the hands of their rivals.
In front of a home crowd in Dortmund, Germany was bidding for a spot in the 2006 World Cup final. It turned out to be yet another defeat against Italy with two last-gasp goals deep in extra time.
“(Italy) have performed well during this tournament, but we also know where they have had difficulties and might face a few problems,” said Löw. “What will be important at the end of the day is that we try and play our own game and take it to the opposition, not vice versa.”
Germany’s star midfielder Mesut Özil, who will be up against Pirlo in the middle of the pitch, echoed Löw’s sentiments.
“We are concentrating on the here and now,” said the 23-year-old. “We are looking forward to the semi, which will be very difficult, but we are confident we can beat anybody.
“I think they deserve to be in the semifinals. They are compact, very strong, but in general we look only at ourselves.
“If we play as we can, I am convinced we will beat Italy.”