Well...we've been saying it for two weeks now on Monday Night Futbol...Beware of Italy!
They just have the same air about them as the time Gianluigi Buffon won the World Cup back in 2006. German manager Joachim Löw made yet another different starting line-up by not starting Thomas Müller. Meanwhile, Italian manager Cesare Prandelli decided once again to start 'Super Mario' Balotelli hoping that he would not be a distraction.
The game started. Even though Italy has never lost to Germany in tournament play [how remarkable is that], it was the Italians who were shaky at first. Buffon seemed nervous and rattled. In the fourth minute, he misplayed a corner kick which found German defender Mats Hummels who shot the ball delicately in. Buffon wasn't there and Andres Pirilo was sitting on the back post and was able to hit the ball out to Buffon's hands.
Germany smelt blood and were on the move. In spite of Balotelli's good chances, it looked as if Germany was ready to score. German defender Jerome Boateng sent in a hard cross that Buffon misplayed and was cleared just wide of the goal.
Now was the time that someone on Italy's team needed to step up and 'have their captain's back.' Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli answered the call. Pirolo saw Giorgio Chiellini open 40 yards in front of him and sends him the long cross which he took and passed to Casino on the right wing. Cassano spun past three defenders and played a hard cross into the six yard box. There, he found Super Mario who powerfully headed it in! That was the shot in the arm Buffon needed and from there on out he became the captain again. Germany tried twice with Mesuit Ozil and Buffon this time saved the shot confidently.
In the 34th minute, German midfielder Sami Khedra, who played a whale of a game, shot a monsterous rocket that Buffon saved with ease. One minute later, Germany's only weakness once again was exploited. Half-German Riccardo Montolivo sent a long ball over Balotelli's head in which the German defenders were caught napping. Balotelli ran up to the ball, tapped it to get free and then blasted Italy's second goal upper 90.
After halftime, it was clear that manager Löw admitted that his changes were wrong and made two substitutions. Still, however, he stayed with the most controversial player Toni Kroos. What he changed was he brought in Miroslav Klose in for Mario Gomez and took out Podolski in exchange for Marco Reus. Italy still had the momentum but Germany went on an all out assault. Lahm tried to save the day as he did earlier in the quarters, but his shot went high. Klose had a chance in the box, but he was tackled cleanly. In the 54th minute, there was a ball that sat stationary on the six. Out of nowhere, four Italians got to it and cleared it out. Classic Italian bend but don't break.
In the 60th minute, Reus took a direct kick from just outside the box and was able to do what only Pirlo did during the tournament. ... clear the wall and put the ball on target. He did so using topspin and it was on target. It was going just under the crossbar and guess who saved it. Super Buffon would not be denied.
Fifteen minutes later and it started to look bleak for Germany. Still, when down 2-0 if you score, you get a huge momentum shift in your favor. manager
Löw wanted that now. He took out Boateng and put in Thomas Müller only playing three in the back. More offense yes, less defense oops. Italy started their assault of the extra space. All of their shots were off target and one made it in, but ruled offsides. All of that offense didn't provide any goals, but it did take valuable time off of the clock.
Time for Germany's last push. Hummels was able to take a shot on Buffon from six yards out. Buffon barely deflected it but Leonardo Bonucci was able to back heel it out of harm's way. In the 92nd minute, Germany finally got a break with a hand-ball call. Özil put the shot in and then the momentum shift happened. Germany's keeper, Manuel Neuer kept pushing up showing is great athletic ability. I had the feeling that if there were 5 more minutes to play that they would score. But it was too little, too late.
Now we will have a re-match from the Group of Debt: Spain vs. Italy. Beware of Italy.
God Bless You all.
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