Germany v Italy – Stade de Bordeaux at 20:00 live on BBC One
This Saturday night we are treated to easily the most anticipated match of the Quarter Finals at Euro 2016, as World Champions Germany face a resurgent Italy, in a match which I believe will effectively decide who reaches the final from this half of the draw.
Two contrasting stories of the nations involved in this match, Germany the World Champions and major tournament specialist’s arrived in France under a bit of a cloud. They had not been playing well in the lead up to the finals and there were doubts around the defence & striker positions.
However, here we are at the Quarter Final stage and the Germans once again look in rude title winning health. Joachim Low saw how his team were struggling to score goals in the opening two games and brought in veteran striker Mario Gomez, who promptly scored in both his starts so far.
As for the defence, with Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira sitting just in front of the back four, Die Mannschaft are yet to concede a single goal at Euro 2016. Although, I expect that Italy will provide a much sterner test for them on Saturday night.
Antonio Conte’s Italians by comparison, arrived in France being touted as the worst squad Italy had sent to major tournament in the history of football. But, after their first 90 minutes of action in France, it was clear that the Gil Azzurri are once again contenders to lift another European Championship trophy in 2016.
Much fancied Belgium were brushed aside in that opening group match, by a comfortable and well deserved 2-0 score line. However, Italy did benefit from Belgium’s profligacy in front of goal that day, they did create a few good chances to score.
The Italians then went on to battle past Sweden, needing a very late winner to clinch a 1-0 victory over Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. It seems as though this Italian side raise their level considerably when facing better opponents.
That fact was evident in the complete dominance they enjoyed when knocking out Spain, 2-0 in their round of Last 16 encounter. They are a team that is significantly more than the sum of their parts and Germany will need to be at their very best to reach the Semi Finals next week.
Low’s team have so far improved with each game and with their high tempo possession football and two players in Kroos and Khedira sitting in the centre of the field, the Italians might not be able to dominate the game, as they did against Spain last time out.
It is a tricky match to call as both sides have great belief and momentum coming into the game, but for me Germany have the higher ceiling than Italy, who can only go so far on their current philosophy. It sometimes takes a world class individual, to rise above the rest in a match like this and Germany have more than one player capable of doing just that.
Looking at the betting markets for this match, the Germans are understandably chalked up as strong favourites for the match and their Asian Handicap line is -0.25 at 1.89. In the Total Goals market, we again have the now familiar line of Over/Under 2 Goals at 2.12 and 1.83 respectively.
Despite knockout phase games at major tournaments historically being low scoring, I think the price on Over 2 Goals here, is simply too big to miss. Especially considering the way that the Italians have come out and attacked in every match so far, not to mention the Germans who notched three goals in their last game.
Plus, they take an average of 19.5 shots per game and on another day they would have led Northern Ireland by five or six at half time, if not for some heroic goal keeping from Michael McGovern.
Finally, Italy must realise that their best chance of reaching the Semi Final is to knock the Germans out of their imperious stride as early as possible, like they have done against Belgium and Spain.
But, I do not seem them keeping Germany out, so I expect a minimum of two goals in this match, which would mean our stake is safe, then one more goal and we are in the money.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2 Goals at 2.09
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