Warsaw: Germany boss Joachim Low has highlighted stopping Andrea Pirlo and winning the midfield battle as key to his side defeating Italy in their Euro 2012 semi-final clash on Thursday night.
Die Mannschaft enter the last four as the only side to have won all four of their games so far but their coach remains concerned by the threat posed by the Azzurri and their midfield maestro.
"Pirlo is an exceptional player, with good ideas," Low told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. "He’s the one who directs the game, so we have to stop him and get in his radius.
"We have to think of a way to play better than Italy in midfield and dictate the tempo of the match.”
"We will not let Italy show us how to play football. It’s a confidence thing. We have to be cheeky, we have to be strong and brave."
"I know it will be very tight. We are well prepared, we know our strengths and we’re in a position to get in the final by beating Italy."
Much has been made of the fact that the Italians defeated Germany in an epic World Cup semi-final clash in Dortmund in 2006 but Low cannot see how that game will have any bearing on what happens in Warsaw.
"When you look at the game six years ago, the players were quite young," pointed out Low, who was Jurgen Klinsmann`s assistant at that time. "I don`t think we had the maturity back then but it doesn’t matter anymore."
"It doesn’t really have any relevance - a lot of these players weren’t there. They know of the game from history but it doesn’t play a role in a very important game tomorrow."
"Our team can beat any team in the world. We will play our own game with our own ideas, regardless of who our opponent is."
"We don’t have to react to the opponent; we play our own game. A few years ago, there were things we had to work on. I would say on a football basis, we don’t have to be afraid of anyone."
There has also been a lot of focus on the fact that Germany have had the benefit of an extra two days of rest for the game in the Polish capital, but Low does not believe that fatigue will be a major factor.
"In the quarter-final against England, we saw Italy got stronger and stronger after 60-70 minutes and were dominant in extra-time," he argued.
"I didn’t see the Italians having any problems and they have had four days to recuperate. I think that’s enough time to regenerate and it’s also something that’s in your head."
"They won the game, so they have more energy and strength. But maybe we’ll be able to play a high tempo and make them tired in the second-half. I would like that."
First Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 08:57