With Germany preparing to play Italy in Thursday's semi-final in Warsaw, it is unsurprising that comparisons are being made to the last-four encounter between the two sides at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That day, the Azzurri ended Germany's 'Sommermärchen' with two goals in the final minutes of extra time but Miroslav Klose, one of five players in the current squad who played in Dortmund, does not think history will be important come kick-off.
"That was then and now is now," the forward said. "Both teams have changed and our style of playing has changed a bit because many new and more dynamic players have been added to the squad.
We are two different teams now and even though some of Italy's World Cup winners are still pulling the strings they have changed as well. However, we are in good shape and have prepared very well for them."
The 34-year-old joined S.S. Lazio from FC Bayern München last June and scored 12 goals in 27 Serie A appearances in his first season outside of Germany. He rejects the notion that his experience of Italy will give Joachim Löw's side the upper hand. "First of all, I haven't been there long enough to really be an expert," he said. "Of course, there are differences between Italians and Germans. I like that they are a bit more relaxed than we are. You can see that there is another way to play football and that it works just as well. That might be an advantage for them."
Klose and the rest of the Germany squad were glued to their television screens as Italy beat England on penalties in the last quarter-final. Impressed with how good Cesare Prandelli's men were on the ball, he still feels certain Thursday's game will be different. "Sure, Italy pushed England back, but that will not happen against us. We will play with different tactics to England. I think we know where Italy's weaknesses are and we will try to use that to our advantage."
Italy have swapped formations in this tournament, starting with a 3-5-2 against Spain and then reverting to their more usual 4-3-1-2. However, although it is likely that they will stick with the latter formation, a surprise lineup with a back three is still a possibility. "We have practised playing against both formations," said Klose. "We know what to do against either formation in terms of how the midfielders, the strikers and players on the wing have to play. We have to wait and see which formation they choose, but I don't think that they can surprise us there."
A record of 64 goals in 120 matches for Germany does not guarantee Klose a starting berth but he will be ready regardless of whether he or Mario Gomez is called upon. "I assume I will play," he said. "I prepare myself as if I will be playing. I have always stated that we have two great strikers and the coach has been right with his choices so far. Let's see what he decides now."
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