Can Conte serve up another masterclass?

Will Joachim Loew take Germany one step closer to European glory or does Antonio Conte have another master plan up his sleeve?

Antonio Conte will take charge at Chelsea after EURO 2016   -  REUTERS

Germany and Italy lock horns in what is arguably the most anticipated match at EURO 2016 so far.

The Germans are peaking at the right time, riding on the back of a dominating 3-0 win against Slovakia. Die Mannschaft is yet to concede a goal and coach Joachim Loew finally seems to have found his strongest starting XI.

Antonio Conte has earned rave reviews for his tactical decisions, especially in the matches against Belgium and Spain. Italy does not possess any superstars but it is an extremely hard-working and well-drilled outfit which knows how to win matches.

Germany is likely to keep its 4-2-3-1 shape but Joshua Kimmich could make way for the more experienced Benedikt Howedes. Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos will anchor the midfield and allow Mesut Ozil some freedom to roam. Thomas Mueller and Julian Draxler will both start wide but are likely to cut in to ease the burden on Mario Gomez, who will spearhead the attack.

Italy will also stick to 3-5-2 but defensive midfield could be an issue with Thiago Motta suspended and Daniele De Rossi out injured. Alessandro Florenzi’s versatility might see him take up that role with Matteo Darmian taking up his position at right wing-back. Eder and Graziano Pelle have complemented each other really well so far and are capable of giving headaches to Boateng and Hummels.

 

Italy’s strength lies in its tactical flexibility. The Azzuri changes shape according to the situation with Emmanuele Giaccherini playing as a number 10 while attacking and dropping in midfield while defending. The same applies to the full-backs who double up as wingers with the ball and defenders without it.

The width provided by Florenzi and Di Sciglio was vital against Spain which played most of its football through the centre due to lack of natural wingers. By making the pitch wider, Italy forced the Spanish midfielders to come closer to the touchline to create more space in midfield for Giaccherini and Candreva to bombard forward.

This tactic might not work against the Germans who apart from having wingers, are more dynamic in comparison to the Spaniards.

Germany will have its work cut out to break down Italy’s ‘Juventus’ backline of Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini. Mesut Ozil must find a way to feed the likes of Mueller and Draxler who can attack the space in between the full-back and the centre-half.

The third quarterfinal promises to be a compelling watch with the pace and power of Germany taking on the organisation and tenacity of Italy. Will Joachim Loew take his side one step closer to European glory or does Antonio Conte have another master plan up his sleeve?

Key Opta Facts

- Germany has won 14 of its last 17 games at major tournaments, drawing two and losing one – the loss to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals.
- Germany is the only team yet to concede a goal at Euro 2016. The only previous time it kept clean sheets in its first four games at a major tournament was in the 1978 World Cup.
- Italy has kept 19 clean sheets in 37 European Championship matches, more than any other team in the history of the tournament and just ahead of Germany (18 from in 47). 
- Italy has picked up more cards than any other team at Euro 2016 – 13 bookings in four games.
- Mario Gomez has scored the joint most goals for Germany at the European Championship with five, alongside Jurgen Klinsmann. 
- Graziano Pelle's two goals at Euro 2016 have come in stoppage time.

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