Loew hopes spy in the camp can provide edge over Italy

World Cup winners Germany meet Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 in Bordeaux on Saturday and are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to end a miserable tournament record against the Azzurri.

The pair have met at a major finals eight times and Italy are undefeated - more specifically, they have met in semi-finals and a final four times and Italy have triumphed in each and every one, the last a semi at Euro 2012. The Germany team is the successor to the old West Germany side.

"We have no Italian trauma," Germany coach Joachim Loew said, adding that he had a "good feeling" ahead of the encounter.

Loew revealed he will turn for advice to Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira, who plays his club football alongside six of the Italian squad - including the iron quartet of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defenders Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.

"Of course, I will talk to him about the Italian players he sees in training day in, day out," Loew said. "He will certainly have some information which I don’t have, like how they cope and behave in pressure situations."

With captain Bastian Schweinsteiger confined to a supporting role from the bench, Khedira has upped his game in the middle of the park in France.

"He simply fulfils the tasks you set out for him," Loew said. "He is clever and intelligent and really quickly implements what you ask of him. I have the feeling he is getting more and more dynamic now."

Germany were expected to perform strongly at the tournament but were not wholly convincing in the group stage - only drawing with Poland and missing various chances against Ukraine and Northern Ireland.

But they crushed Slovakia 3-0 in the last 16 and should they progress to the semi-finals - where they would meet hosts France or surprise packages Iceland - they would be favourites to claim a first Euro title since 1996.

"We now face the best side at the European Championship on Saturday," Italy coach Antonio Conte said. "It's going to be very, very hard in all aspects."

Italy arrived free of the expectation which has weighed them down in the past but immediately sparked into life with a wonderful display to outfox Belgium in their opening game.

And by the time they dismissed holders Spain in the last 16, they were no longer just sitting deep and playing on the counter-attack - a magnificent first half, likely the best 45 minutes seen in the tournament, could have blown away the Spanish completely.

Conte is attempting to keep the pressure off his side and believes they remain underdogs heading to Bordeaux.

"Germany are on a higher level to everybody," he said.

"So we're going to have to regain our strength and prepare for it well, with the same attention, desire and determination because we're going to need something super-extraordinary for that game, not just extraordinary."

A change could be enforced on the Italian system as midfielder Daniele De Rossi is struggling for fitness and first-choice replacement Thiago Motta is suspended.

While Loew has said this is not a normal Italian side, their willingness to take bookings when needed has not changed - Barzagli, Bonucci, Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi, Mattia De Sciglio, Eder, Lorenzo Insigne, Graziano Pelle, Salvatore Sirigu and Simone Zaza will all miss a potential semi-final with another yellow card.

Germany have not been angels either however, with Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Khedira, Joshua Kimmich and Mesut Oezil all walking the suspension tightrope.

Last update: Thu, 30/06/2016 - 10:56
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