Not many expected Italy to make it this far at Euro 2016, not least in such stylish fashion. With their impressive 2-0 victory over Spain on Monday, the Azzurri reminded everyone that when the odds are against them, they never fail to deliver. However, after dismantling La Roja in the 1st knockout round, Italy now face an even tougher test in the form of Die Mannschaft.
Astonishingly, despite the enormous success that Germany have enjoyed over the years, they have never beaten Italy in a competitive match. In fact, some of Italy's most memorable victories in major competitions have come over Germany, including the 1982 World Cup final and the Euro 2012 semi-final meeting in which Mario Balotelli's brace (those were the days!) proved to be the difference, sending Italy through to the final at Germany's expense yet again. As a result, Germany will come into this match with a point to prove.
Whilst Germany's 2014 World Cup winning campaign was enthralling, they have rarely looked as convincing so far at this tournament. They remain a formidable opponent for the Azzurri, but much like their Spanish counterparts they are no longer the force of old. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira help form a formidable midfield unit that allows Germany to dominate possession quite comfortably, however there are deficiencies elsewhere in the squad. Phillip Lahm's international retirement has left Germany with a lack of talent in the full back positions, just as Miroslav Klose's retirement has left them without a true focal point in attack. Much like Spain, they play to the strengths of this Italy team and Antonio Conte will have undoubtedly prepared a plan to combat Germany's highly technical style of play.
Italy are expected to once again line-up in a 3-5-2 formation with Gianluigi Buffon in goal, flanked by the three Juventus central defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli. Daniele De Rossi is unlikely to take to the field for this clash having picked up an injury in the match against Spain, whereas his understudy Thiago Motta will be serving a suspension. As a result Stefano Sturaro could start in front of the defence just behind Marco Parolo and Emanuele Giaccherini. Milan's Mattia De Sciglio will keep his place on the left flank whilst Alessandro Florenzi will continue in place of the injured Antonio Candreva on the right. Finally, Eder and Graziano Pelle look set to start up front once again.
Germany are expected to field a more conventional 4-2-3-1 formation loaded with talented attacking players as well as the Bayern Munich defensive pairing of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. Italy have never done things the easy way and Germany will be an even tougher opponent than the likes of Belgium and Spain. However,a victory would surely make Italy favourites to go on and win the competition. History is on their side this time, let's hope the Azzurri live up to their billing.
Italy: 3-5-2 - Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Alessandro Florenzi, Marco Parolo, Stefano Sturaro, Emanuele Giaccherini, Mattia De Sciglio; Eder, Graziano Pelle.
Germany: 4-2-3-1 - Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Jonas Hector; Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos; Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler; Mario Gomez.
How To Watch
Where: Nouveau Stade De Bourdeaux, Bourdeaux.
When: 21.00pm local, 3,00pm EST, Saturday 2nd July 2016.
TV: SKY Italia 1 (Italy), BBC 1 (UK), ESPN 2 (USA)
Online: SKY Go Italia (Italy), BBC Iplayer (UK), Watch ESPN (USA)
International listings can be viewed here.
Italy 1-0 Germany
Even though Italy aren't favourites, history is on their side and they have been superb so far at Euro 2016. The Azzurri can upset the apple cart here once again.