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EURO 2016

FOOTBALL

Italy go into Germany clash with psychological advantage

Europe's titans clash on Saturday when Germany and Italy meet in the plum Euro 2016 quarter-final with huge stakes for both countries.

Italy go into Germany clash with psychological advantage
Germany coach Joachim Loew (L) and Italy Boss Antonio Conte (R). Photo:Patrick Stollarz/Miguel Medina/AFP

Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is poised to make his first start in the Bordeaux match, while Italy's veteran defender Daniele de Rossi faces a race to be fit.
   
Like two heavyweight boxers eyeing up their opponent before the first bell, both teams have talked up the respect factor and down played the significance of Italy winning the last eight meetings at major tournaments.
   
In the most recent matches, Italy claimed a 2-1 win in the Euro 2012 semi-finals while Germany romped to a 4-1 win in a meaningless friendly in March.
   
Joachim Loew's Germany insists they have no 'Italy trauma' as they look to beat the Azzurri at the ninth attempt on a big stage and throw off their Italian shackles.
   
Antonio Conte's Italy has compared taking on the world champions as football's equivalent of 'climbing Everest'. Italy have their own trauma after crashing out of the 2014 World Cup in the first round.
   
Both squads insist this will be their toughest test so far at the European Championship finals.
   
No doubt penalties have been practised behind closed doors, should the tie be decided by a shoot-out.
   
The Azzurri proved they are up for the challenge by dumping previous holders Spain out of the competition with a 2-0 win in the last 16.
   
But Conte's team will have to become the first team to score past the Germans at Euro 2016, unless the tie is settled by penalties.
   
The clear, often repeated, German message this week has been of great respect, but no fear of the Azzurri.
 
 As has been well documented in the media of both European footballing powerhouses, Italy has a rare unbeaten record over Germany at major tournaments.

Germany's Italian curse
   
“It doesn't mean anything to me that we have never beaten Italy in a big tournament”, said Germany midfielder Toni Kroos.
   
“They are the best team we will have faced here. I'm looking forward to the game and I'm very optimistic.”
   
But the question will be whether previous failures appear at the back of German minds should Italy take the lead in Bordeaux.
   
Torino striker Ciro Immobile, who spent an unhappy season at Borussia Dortmund, is not impressed with the respectful noises coming from the Germans.
   
“We've beaten them so many times … they're just trying to cover themselves,” he said.
   
“We know Germany are strong and will be sure of themselves. But our victory over Spain has really lifted our confidence.”
   
Germany have all their players fit and no suspensions.
   
Centre-back Jerome Boateng has recovered from a calf strain which made him doubtful for the 3-0 win over Slovakia in the last 16.
   
The burly Bayern Munich defender scored his first international goal against Slovakia.

Record-breaker Neuer
   
After three Euro 2016 appearances off the bench, Die Mannschaft's leader Schweinsteiger is poised to make his first start after a knee injury.

Germany's shot-stopper Manuel Neuer is on a record run of five games unbeaten, a first in the 108-year history of the German FA, which includes the 2-0 warm-up win over Hungary.
   
Italy have Thiago Motta suspended and are waiting on the fitness of two other midfielders.
   
Italy's De Rossi is almost certain to miss out after injuring his right thigh in the win over Spain.
   
Likewise, Lazio winger Antonio Candreva is doubtful after suffering a hamstring injury in their 1-0 group stage win over Sweden nearly two weeks ago.
   
Neither took part in Thursday's Italy training session behind closed doors.
   
Let battle commence.

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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