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German juggernaut aiming to flatten Italy
Published : 27 Jun 2012 19:17:58
German midfield dynamo Bastian Schweinsteiger has said Italy are the next big name the Nationalelf juggernaut aims to flatten when the teams collide in Thursday's Euro 2012 semi-final.
Germany are on a 15-match winning streak in competitive matches since losing to Spain at the 2010 World Cup, winning all ten of their qualifiers and dominating the so-called "Group of Death" at the Euro 2012 finals.
In the last two years the Germans have recorded convincing wins over Argentina, and England at the 2010 World Cup, while they have beaten World Cup finalists Holland, Portugal, Denmark and Greece at the Euro 2012 finals.
They also beat Brazil in a friendly last August.
Spain, who face Portugal on Wednesday in the other semi-final, are one of the few remaining major football nations the Germans have yet to conquer, but Schweinsteiger says all attention is on flooring the Italians.
"The point has come where we can beat the next big opponent, we have beaten Argentina, Brazil, England and Holland, so the next big one will be the Italians, I hope," said the 27-year-old Bayern Munich star.
"That is how we will go into the game tomorrow (Thursday) and see what happens, there is big respect there, but no fear."
"Fear" has been a key word since Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo on Tuesday accused the Germans of running scared of the Azzurri in the build up to the Warsaw semi-final.
Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive match, losing three times and drawing four times in World Cup finals and European Championships.
The last time they met in a finals match it saw Italy end Germany's fairytale march at the 2006 World Cup when they beat the hosts 2-0 in the semi-final en route to winning the title.
Pirlo, 33, has said he believes history will give Italy the edge, but Schweinsteiger insists while Germany respect the Italians, there is definitely no fear.
"I personally don't have any fear, there is a lot of respect there and if you didn't have any respect, you're dumb," he said.
"I think Italy are a great nation, they have won a lot in the past and have made a big step forward in the last two years.
"We have the respect for what they have done recently, the national team is really positive.
"We don't fear Italy, but we do respect them."
Schweinsteiger said the 2012 Germany team has developed further since finishing third at the 2010 World Cup and he says the Warsaw showdown will be a highlight of his season.
"I think that we have got much, much more quality now, we are tactically and physically strong, we have good individual players," said the Bayern star, who suffered Champions League heartache last month in the final defeat to Chelsea.
"The most important thing is we work together as a team that's why I am positive about it, I am really looking forward to the match.
"I have played a lot of games, but this is a highlight in a long season."