Evian (France) (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew insists the world champions have no Italian complex as die Mannschaft attempt to break their Azzurri curse in Saturday’s Euro 2016 quarter-final.
In eight previous attempts, Germany has never beaten Italy in the finals of a major tournament and will need to make history Bordeaux to reach the semi-finals.
German fans will at least take heart from a 4-1 rout of a lacklustre Italy in their most recent meeting in a friendly in March.
But Loew knows Saturday’s clash with a place in the last four at stake will be an utterly different proposition.
“We have no Italian trauma,” Loew told reporters at the German’s training base in Evian.
“We don’t have any fear of them, just trust in our own skills.
“For me that’s cold coffee. I’d rather have a fresh espresso. We’ll see how it tastes on Saturday,” he added when reminded of Germany’s previous results against Italy on the big stage.
Loew has experienced Germany’s pain first hand as assistant manager when Italy spoiled their World Cup party on home soil in 2006 and four years ago when a Mario Balotelli double took the Azzurri to the final of Euro 2012 at Germany’s expense.
Yet, Loew says he learnt his lesson from that semi-final defeat and, in particular, his inability to restrict Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo, before leading Germany to a fourth World Cup two years later.
“Everyone makes mistakes, I wanted to shut Pirlo down and looking back, one must say the plan didn’t work,” admitted Loew.
“I have to take responsibility for that, none of us put in the performances we should have.
“The defeat helped in my personal development, especially for the 2014 World Cup. It was a good lesson for me.”
Neither Balotelli nor Pirlo are with the Azzurri in France, but Loew knows the challenge Antonio Conte’s side will post.
And he insisted the experience of an Italian side captained by veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and the presence of Daniele de Rossi in midfield must be respected.
“Form on the day will make the difference, it’s going to be a tight game and the outcome is open,” said Loew.
“This is a much better Italian than in 2008 or 2010.
“They have mentally strong players.
“They can switch quickly from defence to attack, it’s automatic, even without Pirlo.
“Buffon brings tremendous calm and their experienced defence is well co-ordinated.
“In midfield, they have players who defend well, like Daniele de Rossi, who is intelligent and finds the balance.”
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