Originally posted on Just Cover Blog  |  Last updated 6/27/12

Thursday’s game: Germany vs. Italy – 2:45 p.m. ET

Germany (-130), Italy (+400), Draw (+250)

The second semifinal for Euro 2012 is going to result in the first loss for either Germany or Italy. The winner will face Spain for the right to be named the best in Europe.

Germany came in as a favorite to reach the final, although they haven’t won a major tournament since 1996. They plowed through the Group of Death and their first knockout game without a loss nor draw, looking as powerful as ever. The Germans opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Portugal, although the goal came late and the Portuguese held their own. This turned out to be a sign of things to come, as Portugal has reached the semifinals before falling in penalty kicks.

In the second match, the Germans dominated and downed the rival Dutch with a 2-1 victory. In the final group stage match, a goal in the 80th minute secured their third straight win, this time over Denmark. They thoroughly crushed Greece in the quarterfinals, although a late penalty kick made the 4-2 final more respectable.

Mario Gomez entered the semifinal round with three goals, tied for the tournament lead. The decision to start him over veteran Miroslav Klose at the beginning of the tournament was questioned, but Gomez proved his manager correct. However, Klose did start against the defensive-minded Greece. This may again be the move Germany goes with against Italy.

As for the Azzurri, they opened the tournament with a surprising 1-1 draw against Spain. Having notoriously being all about defense, Italy moved to a possession-based style, similar to Spain. The early returns were looking good. But a 1-1 draw against Croatia in the second game changed the mood, and Italy no longer controlled its fate.

But a 2-0 win over Ireland, coupled with a Spain defeat of Croatia put the Italians into the quarterfinals. The knockout game against England was almost a switch in historical tactics. Italy controlled 64 percent of the possession and had an incredible 35 shots, 20 on goal. England had a couple chances, but was just hoping to hold on into penalty kicks, which is what Italy used to be known for. The Italians had an early miss, but a crossbar and save on two England shots led to Italy’s victory.

Against the powerhouse Germans, Italy’s defense has to be top-notch. They allowed two goals, and none in the past two matches. On the other side, No Italian has scored more than one goal, and only Andrea Pirlo has multiple assists (2). As mentioned, Gomez has three goals for Germany, while Mesut Ozil has two assists and has provided great passing range. There were questions about the German back line entering the tournament, and Mario Balotelli has had a boatload of chances in this tournament for Italy. He’ll get a few against Germany, but he can’t afford to keep missing. He has one goal in the tournament.

The possession battle is going to be key in this one. Germany will want possession to attack, while Italy wants it to defend with some slow movement forward. Italy’s defense is stout, but Germany’s attack is too powerful. I think Italy will get a goal, but the Germans will move into the championship.

Prediction: Germany 2-1 Italy

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