Germany could soon pay the penalty

Before Saturday night’s match, Germany had last missed a penalty in a shoot-out in 1982, when Uli Stielike failed to score from the spot in the World Cup semi-final against France.
But against Italy in Bordeaux, they missed three. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller all missed for Joachim Low’s men. They recovered thanks to their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and some truly terrible efforts from Italy. But, finally, after all these years, the Germans’ spot-kick invincibility has seemingly slipped. Other nations, especially England, take note – you might finally have a chance!
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Boateng is a buffoon

Why did he do it? Jerome Boateng seemed so insistent on proving to the referee that he was not pushing Giorgio Chiellini that he threw his hands into the air to demonstrate. So when the ball hit his arm after the Italian flicked the ball with his head he could have no complaints at giving away the second-half penalty that let his opponents back into the game. For usually such a savvy defender, who has been outstanding in this tournament so far, it was idiotic.

Referee Viktor Kassai awards a penalty to Italy after Germany's Jerome Boateng handballs in the area

Image credit: Reuters

And he could have cost his side the Euro 2016 title. What a buffoon.
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Yellow peril costing the tournament

After Aaron Ramsey got booked against Belgium for a silly handball, Mats Hummels also saw yellow as Italy took on Germany. It means both players miss the semi-finals through suspension. But earning a ban after picking up two yellow cards in five games is incredibly harsh.

Germany's Mats Hummels is booked by referee Viktor Kassai

Image credit: Reuters

The tournament will be much worse off without being able to watch this pair playing at their peak at the business end of proceedings. Of course there has to be a deterrent from foul play but surely three yellow cards in five games would be fairer, or having the slate wiped clean after the last-16 matches.

Copying Conte can work…

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Antonio Conte will have felt pretty smug at the start of the match last night. Germany switched their system from their previous match against Slovakia and played three at the back. It mirrored their opponents’ defensive line-up and perhaps was a nod to the tactical nous of the incoming Chelsea manager.
Indeed Martin Keown on commentary noted at the end of the first half that it was a “tactical stalemate”. Or it could simply have been because that’s the way Germany played in their 4-1 victory against the Italians in March. Because let’s face it, Joachim Low is no slouch on systems either.

Luck breaks down blue barricade

A lot has been made of Antonio Conte’s tactical brilliance at Euro 2016 but it is not just the formations and training-ground drilling that have served Italy so well. It is worth re-emphasising the point that Italy are sensational at defending as individuals as well as a team.

Alessandro Florenzi, Germany v Italy, AFP

Image credit: AFP

Their Juventus back four of keeper Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli have been outstanding in their organisation, communication and tackling. But when they fail, others have thrown their bodies on the line – as brilliantly displayed by Alessandro Florenzi with his incredible block from Thomas Muller in the second half. When Germany did finally break through, it was via a fortunate deflection that fell into the path of Mesut Ozil from Jonas Hector’s cross. It needed a bit of luck to break down the blue barricade.
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