at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Warsaw – Germany and Italy will both be seeking to attack rather than opt for caution as they battle Thursday for a place in the final of the European Championship.
Three-times champions Germany must overcome a side they have never beaten at a major tournament if they are to reach their second successive European final after losing to Spain four years ago.
The game in Warsaw's National Stadium also revives memories of the 2006 World Cup semi-final in Dortmund, when Italy posted a 2-0 extra-time win on their way to becoming world champions.
The game is now history for Germany coach Joachim Loew as his young charges come up against an Italian side under Cesare Prandelli which has shown tactical flexibility and creativity.
“There is no revenge in football. It's over. We cannot do it over. The past doesn't mean anything for us,” said Loew of the 2006 semi-final, when he was assistant to Juergen Klinsmann.
Loew has a full squad, including a fit Bastian Schweinsteiger, and is considering changing his side again as he works out how best to approach Italy's possible systems – 3-5-2 and 4-4-2.
Loew had brought in three new attacking players for the 4-2 quarter-final victory over Greece in Miroslav Klose, Marco Reus and Andre Schuerrle, but could now restore Mario Gomez, Thomas Mueller and/or Lukas Podolski against the Azzurri.
“I think the Italians are better than any other team in switching (styles) without losing quality,” Loew said.
“They are used to that in the Italian league. We are looking at it. But it's only a small part of the plans. We want to enforce our rhythm onto the Italians. We want to take the initiative and make the Italians deal with our game.”
Italy have had injury concerns on midfielder Daniele De Rossi and defenders Ignazio Abate and Giorgio Chiellini, who have all been undergoing intensive physiotherapy.
Chiellini, 27, strained a leg muscle during the last game of the group phase against Ireland and missed Italy's quarter-final victory over England on penalties Sunday.
Chiellini's return would be much welcomed by Prandelli, whose defence is to miss the suspended Christian Maggio, while Abate nurses a pulled muscle.
Besides worrying about players' availability, Italy have complained about having less time to recover after playing their quarter-final two days after Germany played theirs against Greece.
Playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who was in the team that beat Germany in 2006, said Italy, seeking a second European title after winning in 1968, were confident after their victory against England.
“Germany are scared of us, also because they look at past defeats. We know we can make it,” he said.
“Our approach to the game is the same because this Italian team can only play like this. We have to take advantage of our quality and technique. This is the only way. Unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.”
Italy have the better record against Germany, with 14 wins in 30 matches, against only seven victories for Germany. But Loew's side are on a formidable international-record run of 15 consecutive victories in competitive matches. – Sapa-dpa