“THERE IS NO such thing as an invincible side,” insisted Cesare Prandelli, when the Italian boss was asked about their hoodoo over Germany.
The Azzurri have never been beaten in a competitive game against tonight’s opponent in Warsaw and their record looks like this: Played 6, Won 3, Drew 3, Lost o.
Records are there to be broken, however, and Jogi Loew’s side are favourites to progress to Sunday’s final after cruising through the previous rounds.
The sides have met in two semi-finals before, during the World Cups of 1970 and 2010, and produced memorable games on both occasions.
Italy 4 Germany 3 – World Cup ’70, semi-final
Dubbed ‘the Game of the Century’, over 100,000 fans crammed into Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium for the semi-final clash. It didn’t disappoint as, after Inter Milan striker Roberto Boninsegna had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, of AC Milan at the time, equalised in the final minute to ensure extra time would be played.
The goals then came flooding in. Gerd Muller put the West Germans ahead but goals from Tarcisio Burgnich and Luigi Riva made it advantage to Italy. There were still more twists to come as Muller grabbed another before Gianni Rivera finally sealed it.
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Italy 3 West Germany 1 – World Cup ’82, final
This game is fondly remembered for Marco Tardelli’s famous celebration. Ireland’s assistant manager put the icing on the cake after Paolo Rossi had found the back of the net in the 57th minute. Substitute Alessandro Altobelli added one more and Paul Breitner scored a late consolation at the Santiago Bernabeu.
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West Germany 1 Italy 1 – Euro ’88, group stage
The curtain-raise at Euro ’88 witnessed a young Roberto Mancini draw first blood against Franz Beckenbauer’s team after a first half where chances were few and far between. Just three minutes later, however, Andreas Brehme had levelled the terms from an cleverly-taken indirect free-kick.
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Italy 0 Germany 0 - Euro ’96, group stage
Eventual champions Germany faced Italy in their third and final Group C game at Old Trafford needing a point to progress while the Mediterraneans had been beaten by the Czech so three points were vital. Current coach Andreas Koepke pulled off a penalty save to deny Gianfranco Zola early on and Arrigo Sacchi’s side were sent home early.
Germany’s Thomas Hassler and Paolo Maldini of Italy (right). Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Germany 0 Italy 2 – World Cup 2006, semi-final
No goals during regulation time meant an additional 30 minutes were played and it was the Italians who showed the greater endurance levels. Andrea Pirlo found full-back Fabio Gross with penalties looking likely and the result was then put beyond doubt by Alessandro Del Piero.
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