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Euro 2012 - Germany VS Italy Semi Final

Mario the hero in Warsaw as Italy beat Germany 2-1

 

Germany vs. Italy

Mario Balotelli silenced his critics in Warsaw on Thursday evening scoring both goals for Italy in a well-deserved 2-1 success against Germany in the second semi-final of Euro 2012.

The Manchester City hitman struck midway through the first half to give his country a precious lead before doubling his tally minutes later with a fine finish into the top corner of Manuel Neuer’s goal, leaving the German keeper rooted to the spot.

The Azzurri have often got the better of Germany at major tournaments and right from the first whistle it was Cesare Prandelli’s side who were brimming with confidence.

Many would have guessed that with two days extra rest in hand, the Germans would have been far the fresher team for the contest but in truth Joachim Loew’s men looked rather flat and lacking in energy.

By contrast, Italy flew out of the blocks and managed to maintain a firm stranglehold on the match until deep into the second period.

Andrea Pirlo once again sought to influence play at every opportunity and was highly effective despite not being afforded as much space as he was against England.

The Italian midfield as a whole performed extremely well and at times made Germany appear very ordinary.

But it was Balotelli who stole the show with his two goals – the second of which was celebrated with a shirtless warrior-like pose which naturally meant a yellow card for his efforts.

Germany managed to gain a foothold late in the day but time was always going to be against them with Italy soaking up the pressure with relative ease.

Injury time got a little nervy for the Azzurri after they conceded a penalty however Germany still only had two minutes to equalise after Mezut Ozil converted from the spot.

Success for Italy means that they will now go on to face Spain in the final – a repeat of their Group C fixture which ended 1-1.

Italy were arguably the better team in that encounter and will take a great deal forward to Sunday’s showpiece final in Kiev.

Balotelli’s brace more or less guarantees him the number nine shirt but it remains to be seen whether he will handle the big occasion against a Spain side who will be aiming to control as much possession as possible.

Italy did play with a fair degree of intent however against Del Bosque’s men in Gdansk so expect a fairly open battle with lots of chances on goal.

And like the group fixture, it could well come down to which nation is able to put their opportunities to bed so finishing from the forwards will be all important.