Eurozone: Germans Beware of Italian Threat
Everyone has faced up to the fact that Andrea Pirlo and his Italian chums tore England a new one at the weekend. But when it comes to the challenge that lies ahead, many quiver and offer few variants from a German victory as their sole prediction. The Germans have looked strong so far. They have shown their ability to dispatch strong sides through victories against Portugal and the Netherlands. They have shown some fantastic individual talent in the performances of Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Khedira and Gomez. They also chose to show their strength in depth through their successful wiping away of Greece. I do admire the Germans for the unit they have developed.
But with all aboard the Volks-band-wagon, and many predicting Germany to be going all the way, I’d like to pose a question: have they really been tested under pressure? Many seem to forget that Germany, with this fantastic new generation of talent, has actually failed to bring about any silverware. German domestic clubs have fallen flat on their faces in the steeplechase that is European club football, despite what seems like a very high standard of football with a great quality of player produced. This would all seem to suggest that, when the pressure arrives, the Germans just cannot hold on to their ‘helms’.
The Italians, however, have fought the pressure through this whole tournament. The squad has been put under pressure of the ever-present national press, not to mention the national police, international law and subsequent foreign scrutiny. If we have to delve into the realms of history to prove a point in the present, their success in 2006 exemplifies their ability to triumph when perhaps they are not the obvious choice for Nigel and Norman who take their packed lunch to Coral every day.
The bottom line, though not to detract from what lies above, is that Italy have
the ability to cause the Germans problems that they haven’t faced in tournament football since their defeat to Spain in their 2010 semi-final.
I have harped on about tournament football and knockout football in my following of Italy through Euro 2012. However, it is as sweet a sounding harp as one played on a summer evening on the Rialto. Italy know they have the knack of playing tournament football. Their success in the penalty shoot-out provides an example, the sting of which still stuns many of the readers of this piece. Yet they wonʼt want to stop there. The beauty of a tournament like this is that with just 3 games after the group stage, you could be lifting silverware and getting a wheelchair through the airport the next day through inebriation. The Germans, you feel lack their taste of Pilsener. The Italians however, with the audacity and confidence of Pirlo, Balotelli and Buffon, are familiar with the taste of celebratory Peroni and they could easily move onto the taste of Limoncello, as their belief in themselves grows and grows.