Thursday 28th June
Thursday 28th June 2012
It was billed as the international el classico, the likely game of the tournament, but it proved anything but as the game never really got going and petered out towards penalties. The neutral will be hoping for a better spectacle tonight as Germany entertains Italy in Warsaw tonight.
Spain 0-0 Portugal (Spain win 4-2 on Pens)
Cesc Fabregas struck the winning penalty for Spain as they made it to the Euro 2012 final after a dramatic shootout victory over Portugal at the Donbass Arena.
Following a goalless 120 minutes the two nations’ fate would be decided by the lottery of penalties with Barcelona midfielder Fabregas tucking away the decisive spot kick via the post after Bruno Alves has smashed his off the bar just moments earlier. It proved to be a thrilling finale to a game that could be considered one the dullest at the tournament so far. That is unlikely to bother Spain as they booked their place in Sunday’s final and kept their hopes alive of defending the trophy they won in 2008.
Portugal, in particular Cristiano Ronaldo, will be disappointed that they failed to see out the game in normal time having been the better team but failed to suitably test Vincente Del Bosque’s men. The World and European champions were clearly out of tune failing to settle into this usual passing rhythm as Portugal pressed the midfield areas for most of the game using their physicality to good effect.
Germany out to shackle Pirlo
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has admitted that his side will look to shackle key Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo when the teams meet tonight in Warsaw.
The European heavyweights meet in the Euro 2012 semi-finals, with a place in the final against Spain up for grabs.
Pirlo has been imperious for the Azzurri and is the fulcrum behind their attacking play; the Bayern Munich man is out to put the Juventus star under pressure.
“I like the way Pirlo plays but he is 33,"
“What he’s been doing in this tournament has been quite something, fantastic, really good to watch. But there’s also a way to stop him.
“You have to attack them. We’ll have a certain aggression in our game. You need that”
Pirlo expects a much tougher game from the Germans
Italy's semi-final hero Andrea Pirlo expects Germany to pose a much stiffer test than England and is aware that he won't be afforded the same amount of space in midfield to dictate play as he was on Sunday.
The 33-year-old rolled back the years in Kiev with a devastating performance capped off by an impudent penalty in the shootout but admits he will find it hard against the Germans expecting them to attack from kick off.
“Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England.
“This is the only way we can play. But unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.
“England played a very prudent and careful way. They were sitting back all the match, like Chelsea did in the Champions League final.”
"They tried to keep that same shape. For them going to the penalty shoot-out was a good result."
Podolski wants end to the losing series
Lukas Podolski says it's time Germany ended their torrid record against Italy in tournament football as they battle for a place in the Euro 2012 final on Thursday evening.
Germany go into the game having failed to beat the Azzurri in seven previous tournament meetings with the last one coming in the semi finals of the 2006 World Cup as they scored two late goals in extra time on their way to becoming World Champions.
Having won four on the spin in Poland and Ukraine they are now favourites to win the tournament and Podolski is urging his teammates they need to live up to that tag if they are to beat Italy and give themselves a chance of winning their first major international trophy in 16-years.
“It's the time to break that series”
“Since 2006 we have improved enormously. Today we have a whole different philosophy and a different team. The Italians also know that.
“One thing is clear - we want to be in the final, so we have to beat the Italians. Therefore, this will hopefully be the end for Italy in this European Championship.”
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