At his Tuesday press conference, Germany coach Joachim Löw told reporters that history will mean nothing against Italy in their Euro 2016 quarterfinal. Germany have never beaten Italy in a tournament match.
“Cold coffee” is the German expression for “yesterday’s news,” and that’s what Löw is calling Germany’s miserable record versus their next foes, Italy. The Germans have failed to beat the Italians when it counts in eight tries.
Löw gave his players Tuesday off, saying the rest would help them clear their heads, before getting down the work of preparing for Germany’s biggest challenge of the tournament so far: Italy in Bordeaux on Saturday.
The coach said he expected the players to use the day not just to take a mental breather, but also to do the regenerative work of their choice, be it beach volleyball, cycling or even working out in the gym.
All 23 fit and ready to go
Löw said he would have the pick of his full 23-man squad when he names his starting 11, meaning that Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Julian Draxler, had all fully recovered from the “minor injuries” that they had sustained in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Slovakia.
“Our doctors and physiotherapists have once again done excellent work,” Löw said, crediting the medical staff for the fact that Boateng had been able to play 72 minutes last weekend.
As is the case every time Germany play against Italy, much is being made in the media about the fact that Germany (previously West Germany) have never beaten the Squadra Azzurra in a tournament match. Löw seemed tired of hearing about this.
“I am not a fan of digging things up from the past. We don’t have an Italy-complex,” the coach said, “This is cold coffee. I prefer a fresh expresso. And we need to make sure it tastes good on Saturday.”
However, he did concede that a 2-1 defeat by Italy in the semifinals of Euro 2012 had not left him cold.
“It hurt me an awful lot,” he said. “But it was a good lesson.”
Variable best 11
Löw conceded that Italy would be Germany’s toughest test of the tournament so far and said that he and his coaching staff would have to do their homework. In particular, Löw praised his opposite number for having formed an experienced Italian squad that are not just excellent defensively, but know how to score goals and are particularly dangerous on the counterattack.
“Coach Antonio Conte has recognized that ‘catenaccio’ alone won’t win you any games,” Löw said. “They have better penetration than in 2012.”
Asked about whether he had settled on his best 11 after the Slovakia game, Löw insisted that there was no set starting lineup per se, but that this changed from game to game, depending upon the opponent. So there could be tweaks to the lineup that beat Slovaka.
Defensive midfielder Sami Khedira, who plays for Serie A side Juventus can look forward to a few extra hours in the coach’s office this week. Asked how valuable it was to have an “Italian spy,” Löw said he would “naturally” try to tap into Khedira’s insight.
“He will be able to give me information that I don’t have,” Löw said. “He knows a lot of the players from training with them on a daily basis, and knows how they react in extreme situations.”
Provided that they get all of this right, and Löw is confident about Germany’s chances of booking their first-ever competitive win over Italy .
“We know what we can do and if we execute our game plan, then we have a good chance to win it,” the coach concluded.