Germany's coach Loew bracing for Italy surprise
BORDEAUX, France (AP):
Germany's coach Joachim Loew reckons Italy will try to catch his team out with an unexpected line-up when the two sides meet in their European Championship quarterfinal today.
Italy are sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who is labouring with a thigh injury, while his natural replacement Thiago Motta is suspended for the game in Bordeaux.
Fellow midfielder Antonio Candreva is injured, and Claudio Marchisio, Marco Verratti and Riccardo Montolivo were all ruled out before the tournament, giving Italy coach Antonio Conte a major problem to solve.
And Loew is bracing for the possible answer.
"We have to assume that the Italians will want to surprise us, that they'll do something with the starting formation we hadn't expected," the Germany coach said yesterday.
"De Rossi is a very good player; he was injured. Of course it's important for Italy that he plays, but Italy have several good midfielders. Italy always find a good solution."
Loew has a full squad of 23 players to choose from as he bids to secure Germany's first ever win over Italy at a major tournament.
And he is not taking anything for granted, despite the Azzurri's injury problems as they prepare to face Loew's world champions.
"The Italians are definitely at the same level," Loew said.
Loew's side was knocked out in the semi-final stage by Italy four years ago. He was assistant coach when Italy knocked Germany out of its home World Cup at the same stage in 2006. Of eight competitive meetings between the sides, Germany has won none.