2012 European Championships : Italy 2 – Germany 1


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Germany winger LUKAS PODOLSKI (10), who has already been sold by relegated 1.FC Koeln for the reported transfer fee of 13.5 million Euros and will play next season in London for English Premier League side FC Arsenal, is closed down by a pair of teammates from traditional Serie A giant FC Juventus Turin, midfielder CLAUDIO MARCHISIO (8) and defender ANDREA BARZAGLI (15), during the 2012 UEFA European Championships semifinal match at the National Stadium (Stadion Narodowy) in Warsaw, Poland.
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A pair of complete and utter first half failures in central defense enabled an inexperienced and, heretofore, spectacularly unproductive striker to dig a deep hole from which his gift-giving opponents would never escape as ITALY dispatched a truly disappointed GERMANY 2-1 in the semifinals of the 2012 UEFA European Championships.

It is fair to say that Italy striker MARIO BALOTELLI had not exactly set the international football world on fire prior to the semifinal meeting with the Germans at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. Just two goals on his first dozen appearances for the Azzuri really did not go a long way towards elevating the 21-year-old Manchester City striker to ‘prolific’ status, then. Still, it was a pair of well-taken goals from Balotelli against the run of play that left Germany shocked and stunned only 36 minutes into the clash of traditional neighboring football rivals.

Balotelli’s opening strike in the 20th minute actually marked the first time that Italy, who have won the coveted FIFA World Cup on four occasions, had, amazingly enough, EVER scored a goal at the semifinal stage of the UEFA European Championships in the entire 52-year-old history of the competition.

CORRECTION — The blog shamefully forgot about 1968, the year the Italians defeated the former Yugoslavia in a replay to actually win the European title, itself … so then, a corrected statement should read “Balotelli’s initial strike was the first time that Italy had scored a goal at the semifinal stage of the UEFA European Championships in 44 years”, or something along those lines.

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Italy midfielder ANDREA PIRLO (21) of FC Juventus Turin looks on as his Serie A teammate and national team constituent GIANLUIGI BUFFON (1) secures the football in front of lurking Germany striker MARIO GOMEZ of Bayern Munich during the 2012 UEFA European Championships semifinal match at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.
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Germany, who have won the FIFA World Cup three times in addition to a record three titles earned at the UEFA European Championships, would go on to outshoot Italy 15-10 over the course of the contest. But, after a shaky beginning in dealing with a low cross from Germany defender JEROME BOATENG of Bayern Munich, the 34-year-old GIANLUIGI BUFFON of FC Juventus Turin showed just exactly why he has been so highly decorated all throughtout his successful career. A total of seven saves and a solitary goal only conceded from the penalty spot was just the sort of performance the Italians needed from their battle-tested goalkeeper with 119 caps and counting.

A signature stop arrived in the second half when Germany substitute winger MARCO REUS of Borussia Moenchengladbach, who had replaced the conspicuously underperforming LUKAS PODOLSKI of 1.FC Koeln on the left after the halftime break, had his menacing free kick curled up and over the wall effectively turned over the crossbar.

The Germans would have plenty of chances with set pieces while piling up an astonishing 14-0 ‘edge’ in corner kicks only to find the Italians, not particularly surprising given the country’s history and tradition of Catenaccio, ready and able to consistently deal with any and all situations.

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Thanks in large part to the efforts of both the captain Buffon as well as defensive midfielder ANDREA PIRLO, the 33-year-old FC Juventus Turin veteran who was selected as Man of the Match by the official website of Euro ’12, German futility against Italy on the big stage continues unabated.

Proud Germany are now winless in eight meetings with the stubborn southern neighbor Italy in a final tournament of a major international competition. This latest victory marks the first time Italy has ever defeated the Germans at the UEFA European Championships as, previously, the Italians had defeated Deutschland in the semifinals (1970, 2006) as well as in the Final (1982), itself, at the FIFA World Cup. The other four encounters between the two traditional footballing powerhouses at major international events have, of course, ended in a draw.

Herzlichen Glueckwuensche fuer Italien!

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GERMANY
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goal — Manuel NEUER (Bayern Munich / 31 caps)

defense — Jerome BOATENG (Bayern Munich / 25 caps, 0 go), Mats HUMMELS (Borussia Dortmund / 19 caps, 1 go), Holger BADSTUBER (Bayern Munich / 25 caps, 1 go), PHILIPP LAHM (Bayern Munich / 91 caps, 5 go)

def midfield — Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER (Bayern Munich / 95 caps, 23 go), Sami KHEDIRA (Real Madrid – Spa / 32 caps, 2 go)

att midfield — Toni KROOS (Bayern Munich / 30 caps, 2 go), Mesut OEZIL (Real Madrid – Spa / 38 caps, 9 go), Lukas PODOLSKI (1.FC Koeln / 101 caps, 44 go)

forward — Mario GOMEZ (Bayern Munich / 57 caps, 25 go)

substitutes
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FW – Miroslav KLOSE (SS Lazio Rome – Ita / 121 caps, 64 go)
for Gomez – 46th min
MF – Marco REUS (Borussia Moenchengladbach / 8 caps, 2 go)
for Podolski – 46th min
MF – Thomas MUELLER (Bayern Munich / 32 caps, 10 go)
for Boateng – 71st min

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ITALY
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goal — Gianluigi BUFFON (FC Juventus Turin / 119 caps)

defense — Federico BALZARETTI (US Palermo / 11 caps, 0 go), Andrea BARZAGLI (FC Juventus Turin / 32 caps, 0 go), Leonardo BONUCCI (FC Juventus Turin / 19 caps, 2 go), Girogio CHIELLINI (FC Juventus Turin / 54 caps, 2 go)

def midfield — Andrea PIRLO (FC Juventus Turin / 88 caps, 10 go)

midfield — Claudio MARCHISIO (FC Juventus Turin / 25 caps, 1 go), Riccardo MONTOLIVO (AC Fiorentina / 36 caps, 1 go), Daniele DE ROSSI (AS Roma / 77 caps, 10 go)

forwards — Mario BALOTELLI (Manchester City – Eng / 13 caps, 4 go), Antonio CASSANO (AC Milan / 34 caps, 10 go)

substitutes
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MF – Alessandro DIAMANTI (FC Bologna / 4 caps, 0 go)
for Cassano – 58th min
MF – Thiago MOTTA (Paris St. Germain – Fra / 12 caps, 1 go)
for Montolivo – 64th min
FW – Antonio DI NATALE (Udiense Calcio / 41 caps, 11 go)
for Balotelli – 70th min

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