The third quarter final pits 2 European giants against each other, Antonio Conte's Italy against Joachim Low's World Champions Germany. Make no mistake about it, this is an absolutely massive game and easily the biggest game of the quarter final stage. Italy managed to knock out one of the tournament favourites in Spain in the last round whereas Germany recorded a textbook victory against Slovakia.
Germany are the world champions and have always been a force in major international tournaments, they were installed as second favourites for Euro 2016 before it started and rightly so. They didn't play amazingly well during the Group Stage but they got the job done however, they blew Slovakia away in the last 16 and Julian Draxler pretty much tore them apart almost single handedly. Italy will have to look out for him if they're to keep yet another clean sheet in the competition. Germany can win this game but they will need players like Draxler and Ozil to be at their creative best if they're to break down this magnificent Italian defence.
Italy have been brilliant so far in this tournament. Yes, they haven't been amazingly entertaining but defensively they have been exemplary. They could make a DVD of Italy's defensive performance this tournament and show it to youth players as an example of how to defend. They have only conceded 1 goal this tournament against the Republic of Ireland but that was after Conte made 9 changes to the team that had won the previous 2 games. If Italy can continue to soak up pressure and hit back at the right time then they could well see off the Germans but it will be a very big ask.
Hopefully Conte can also provide the entertainment from the touchline like he did in the Spain game too!
There's something about this Italy team that just makes me think that they're going to go on and win the whole competition. Conte does not have the quality that previous managers have had in the past, but he has them playing excellently and to their strengths. Germany are a magnificent team and are capable of blowing anyone away on their day but I just have a feeling that Italy can hold them off and punish them later in the game.
Italy are remarkable defensively and it would be a turn up for the books if they conceded a lot or scored a lot however, if that does happen, a shed load of money could be made. This is still a team that conceded 4 goals in the final against Spain in the Euro 2012 final so an almighty collapse is possible. Definitely worth a cheeky couple of quid.
Italy managed to bag 2 goals in the last game and it highlight just how dangerous they can be from set pieces as well as open play. Italy will try and make the most of set pieces during the game and its completely possible for them to bag another 2. If Ozil and Draxler can feed Mario Gomez, he will show yet again why he was once regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. I'm certain both teams will score in this game but Italy will come out on top.
Whether it is 0-0 or 1-1, I feel that this game will be a draw at half time, a lot of the games in these Euros have been very cagey and I expect the first half of this to be cagey too. In the second half, I think that either Italy will take the lead and hold on or win it in extra time. This Italy team seem to be as resilient as they're crazy coach.
This guy is the ultimate poacher, he showed that against Northern Ireland and Slovakia. If there is a ball to be tapped in around the 6-yard box, you can bet he will be there to happily oblige. He's been doing this for his whole career and if Italy even give him a whiff of a goal, they could be 1-0 down very quickly. He's a brilliant bet to get the first goal.
Germany haven't conceded a goal yet during this competition and Italy have conceded 1. If you look at the teams that Italy kept out like Belgium and Spain, Italy are a fantastic bet to keep a clean sheet. They have 4 central defenders between the ages of 28-32 that would walk into most international teams, throw one of the World's finest goalkeepers in Gianluigi Buffon into the mix and it's going to take something very special to beat them.