Germany go into this match as strong favourites having maintained a 100% record throughout the tournament to date. A comprehensive 4-2 victory over Greece was achieved with the minimum of fuss and they look destined for a place in the final.
The Italians were fortunate to scrape through a penalty shootout against a disappointing England side in their quarter-final. Both sides seemed to lack the belief to go forward in numbers and a stalemate was always on the cards. Although Italy had more possession than England they were found badly lacking in creativity and ideas and played out a dull 0-0 draw. Having looked far from convincing in their group matches, they will be relying heavily on their solid defensive record to keep them in this match. They will see their chances improving the longer the match goes on.
However, Germany have several attacking options and have been improving throughout the tournament. Their victory over Greece surprised many in the way they were able to rotate their squad and pick off the Greeks quite easily. Not surprisingly, the bookmakers make Germany odds-on favourites to reach the final but they can still be backed at around even money to win inside 90 minutes.
Italy may take heart from their previous record against the Germans, having never lost a semi-final to them in seven meetings. The last of those was back in 2006 in the World Cup and these are two very different teams. Joachim Low seems to have his team peaking at the right time and they are unlikely to be worried by statistics. Schweinsteiger is reportedly fully recovered from a niggling injury and is likely to start with Low reporting a fully fit squad. One problem for the coach may be deciding whether to start with Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose on Thursday. Both strikers are in great form and Gomez was surprisingly left out against Greece after scoring three goals in the tournament.
The Italians most impressive player against England was Andrea Pirlo and the midfielder will need to perform well if his side are to match the Germans in midfield. Balotelli has not exactly set the tournament alight, with the exception of his superb goal against the Republic of Ireland. Fortunately he has managed to keep his suspect temperament under control and the Italians will look to him for inspiration.
Overall the Germans look much the better side and can continue their run to the final. It is not likely to be a classic but Germany have the patience to wait for the opportunity to pierce the Italian defence and, once they have their noses in front, they are unlikely to be pegged back.