It is not often that we get to witness two teams that have won the World Cup and Euros 11 times between them play at the quarterfinal of the European championship.
So what we will witness on Saturday between Germany and Italy isn’t just a game between two football powerhouses, it is a game involving two sides with so much history and pedigree that no one would be blamed for thinking this will be the final of the competition.
In my opinion, Italy and Germany shouldn’t be meeting in the quarterfinals of the Euros. This is a kind of fixture fit for the final or semifinal at worst.
But here we are, with no other choice but to watch the game as it is, between two countries that have produced some of the finest moments and footballers the world has ever seen.
Welcome to the quarterfinal of the 2016 European championship: it is Germany versus Italy at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, in Bordeaux.
- Germany and Italy have played a total of 33 times against each other, the quarterfinal fixture on Saturday will be the 34th.
- Italy have more wins over Germany, having beaten the Germans 15 of those times.
- Germany have only won eight of those games, while the remaining 10 have ended in draws.
- The Germans are however more successful in European championship, as they have won the Euros thrice, with Italy winning only once before.
- Italy however have a better head-to-head record in competitive games against Germany as they have won one and drew the other two times they met in this competition.
- Germany has never beaten Italy in a competitive fixture as the only wins they have over the Italians have come in friendly games.
Interestingly, both countries met in a friendly last March in a test game for this competition, with Die Mannschaft winning 4-1 – the first time they were beating Italy in 21 years – but one would expect it to be a different ball game entirely this time.
The Azzurri have since improved and have shown some serious tactical master-class in this tournament, something that even Joachim Low cannot ignore.
The best Germany has gotten against an Italian side in a competitive fixture was the group stage draw at Euro ’96 which saw the Azzurri eliminated, while Die Mannschaft had already progressed.
The only other time Germany got a better result against Italy in a competitive fixture was at the Seoul ’88 Olympic Games.
West Germany won that time 3-0 in the Bronze medal match.
- Memorable Games
- 1970 World Cup
This is one of the most memorable games in the history of the World Cup. It was so memorable that a commemorative plaque was designed for it and placed at the entrance of the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
The Italians had led for the majority of the match, after Roberto Boninsegna scored in the 8th minute.
Defender Karl-Heinz Schnellinger however equalized for West Germany during injury time at the end of the second half. Incidentally, Schnellinger played his club football in Italy for AC Milan at the time.
Gerd Müller then put Germany ahead in the 94th minute, but Tarcisio Burgnich scored to level it back up four minutes later and Luigi Riva put the Italians back in front. Gerd Müller scored again for West Germany to tie up the score at 3–3. Yet, as television cameras were still replaying Müller’s goal, Italy’s Gianni Rivera scored the game-winning goal in the 111th minute, clinching the victory for Italy at 4–3.
- 2006 World Cup
This was the semi-final match played in Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, in front of a crowd of 65,000 on 4 July 2006. Until then, the Westfalenstadion had been a fortress-like stadium for the German national team, as Germany had never lost there in 14 matches. During an eventful match, this record was broken when two late goals in the closing half of extra-time scored by Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero saw Italy advance to the final.
Italy would go on to win the World Cup for a fourth time. Andrea Pirlo was named man of the match after a commanding performance and for the assist on Italy’s first goal.
- Euro 2012
Prior to this match, Germany had set a world football record with 15 consecutive wins in competitive matches, which included all matches of Euro 2012 up to that point and the qualifiers. However, also this record was to be broken by Italy on that day.
In the 20th minute, Italian striker Mario Balotelli scored the first goal for Italy after receiving a cross from Antonio Cassano, then in the 36th minute, Balotelli scored again for Italy, giving them a two goal lead. In the second half, the Germans attacked, trying to even the score. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made several brilliant saves to save several German shots. Two minutes into added time, Italian defender Federico Balzaretti committed a handball inside the penalty box. The resulting penalty was successfully converted by the German midfielder Mesut Özil.
Thus the final score was 2–1 to Italy, who went on to the finals against defending champions Spain. As in their previous encounter in the World Cup 2006 semifinal match, Andrea Pirlo was again elected the man of the match.
And to make it even more interesting now, Italy have not travelled to France without Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli and Marco Verratti, unlike the Germans who have all their regular players available in this tournament.