Germany meets Italy in the first semi-final today, July 4, in Dortmund at 9:00 PM German time (3:00 PM EST)
Dortmund is German soccer's happy stomping grounds. The Germans have never lost in Dortmund in 14 encounters, winning 13 and drawing one. A tremendous boost to their self confidence, you would think. However, Germany's record against Italy is a cause for concern, as they have never won, losing two out of the 4 and drawing the other two. Italy beat Germany in the 1982 WC finals, 3-1 in Paolo Rossi's World Cup. Italy also had Altobelli, Marco Tardelli, Franco Baresi, and Dino Zoff. The Italians were playing the Germans who had beaten a Michel Platini led France in the semi-finals, in an exhausting penalty shootout. A match that is a World Cup classic.
Both Klinsmann and Marcelo Lippi are canny operators and the pre-match buildup as been one of mind games as both teams vie for a psychological edge. Not to be outdone by the Germans touting Dortmund as lucky for them, Lippi has countered that by saying as the manager of Juventus, he has never lost in Dortmund, in the European Cup.
Be that as it may, we are looking at two teams that have attacked and defended well. The Germans with an edge in attack and the Italians in defence. The Germans have scored more and conceded more (11 goals, 3 conceded). The Italians have scored 9 and have given away 1 (an own goal).
The Germans play a more dynamic and much busier game than the Italians. They edge out the Italians in tackles 162 to 108, outshoot the Italians in shots on goals 43- 35, are much industrious in their passing, short passes 1881 to 1476, long balls 565 to 457, and crosses 148 to 96. All indicate that the Germans will outplay the Italians in the match. In the open field that Germans are more likely to win the 50/50 in tackles.
But, they are less efficient than the Italians. Inefficiency and German?? Antonymous. With less the Italians have done as much. Thay have been more accurate with their shots and been stingier in giving less goals.
The Italians have also been better at creating free kick opportunities, and in Andrea Pirlo, their free kick specialist, they have someone who gives more to the game than Beckham. Both Italians and Germans are level in corner kicks taken and in fast break attacks.
There is one significant stat that favors the Italians. They get fouled on the most or to put it another way, they are able to sell a foul the best. The Germans have committed 89 fouls to 100 fouls suffered. The Italians have been gulity of 70 fouls but they have suffered 109.
The match might be decided on this seemingly innocuous stat.
If it goes to penalty shootout, then stats overwhelmingly favor the Germans. They are 4-0, and have converted 17 of 18. The Italians have lost all three. They have converted 8 of 15. The most painful defeat was in the 1990 semi-finals when Argentina's Goycochea saved Donadoni and Aldo Serena's penalty kicks enabling Argentina to move to the finals.
Italy and Germany have met on 28 occasions, with Italy winning 13 and Germany seven. The pair have contested six competitive matches which all took place at major championships. Italy are unbeaten in this respect winning twice and drawing four times. In four previous World Cup encounters, Italy have won twice and drawn twice. The sides have met only once at the World Cup semi-final stage. In 1970, the Italians secured a dramatic 4-3 victory in extra time setting up a final meeting with Brazil. Germany missed a chance to vindicate that loss in the 1982 World Cup final, in which they fell 3-1 to the 'Azzurri'.
In the last meeting between these teams, Italy hammered Germany 4-1 in a friendly in Florence. Alberto Gilardino, Luca Toni, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero netted, before Robert Huth produced a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Torsten Frings has been suspended by FIFA for this game. Fifa opened an investigation after Sky Italia, an Italian TV station, "stumbled" on footage showing Frings landing a punch on Argentina's Julio Cruz in a melee of players at the end of their quarter-final win.
From the Beeb
Sky Italia's actions came hot on the heels of German newspaper Der Spiegel describing Italians as "oily" "greasy" and "slimy" - a lot of tautology there - as well as "parasitic", "mamma's boys" and "cheats". Skipper Fabio Cannavaro described himself as offended by the slur.
Team stats from the FIFA site