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Four years ago, Fernando Torres blew by Philipp Lahm for Spain’s winning goal in the Euro final. Today, Lahm was caught in a similar futile foot race this time against a powerful Mario Balotelli.
The City striker sneaked behind the lines as Riccardo Montolivo with all the time in the world caught the Germans in their offside trap to find Balotelli with a long diagonal pass. The target of so much racist furore thundered in a powerful shot that left Lahm and Manuel Neuer in the dust. For Lahm this was deja vu as it turned out to be the winning goal. Balo pulled off his jersey, a subdued celebration given his history.
The Italians were far too clever for the Germans. For Balotelli’s first goal, Antonio Cassano turned Mat Hummels and Jerome Boateng inside out to send in a perfect cross and Balo gliding behind Holger Badstuber was able to head the ball past Neuer.
With Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Montolivo pulling the midfield strings, the Germans with Oezil, Toni Kroos, and Bastain Schweinsteiger were made to look ordinary. Arsenal fans would be terribly disappointed in Lukas Podolksi’s below par ministrations. He was replaced in the second half by Marco Reus as was Mario Gomez with Miroslav Klose.
Things improved for the Germans with the new introductions but it was the Italians enjoying the more threatening opportunities as Marchisio and Antoni De Natale missed out on making this an utter humiliation. Daniele De Rossi had his goal ruled offside to give the Germans some breathing room and in the 90th minute Federico Balzaretti’s handball resurrected a spectre of a German comeback. This is Germany, they’ve engineered some last minute miracles.
Oezil executed a cool as cucumber spot kick and then Neuer was pulled from the goalie position in a Hail Mary situation as the Germans grew increasingly desperate to get the equalizer in the waning minutes. But the Juve led defense held rock solid. Germany’s 15 game winning streak comes to a close with Italy still holding their winning edge over the Mannschaft.
Italy meet Spain in the final in a now familiar series of encounters. The thing is Italy look entirely convincing as they ride the momentum with each player clicking and each aspect of the game seemingly covered perfectly. Spain on the other hand lived precariously at times with their attack subject to some baffling changes to the line up.