Germany coach Joachim Löw has underlined again that he wants his team to "seize the initiative" when they tackle rejuvenated Italy in Thursday's semi-final.
Seen as being a defensive side prior to the tournament, Italy have played a more expansive game during UEFA EURO 2012 even if they required penalties to eliminate England despite having 64% possession – a statistic Löw does not want to see repeated in Warsaw.
"We want to try to enforce our rhythm on Italy," he said. "It will be important to seize the initiative and try to force Italy to drop deep with our game. We want to act, not react."
Germany have won 15 competitive matches in succession, a world record that stretches from the 2010 FIFA World Cup to the 4-2 quarter-final victory against Greece, yet Löw believes "we have to up the ante" to reach the final. "We did well against Greece but Italy are a different proposition," he added.
"We've all realised that Italy have a different team to 2010 and that there's been enormous development with the national team. [Andrea]
Pirlo is having a sort of renaissance now. He's an outstanding footballer and an ingenious strategist. Man-marking him would not make sense, as he likes to drop very deep. They have shown extreme quality and lots of strengths in this tournament, but we also know where their problems are."
Löw shrugged off an indifferent record against the Azzurri. Germany have lost all their competitive meetings, including two World Cup semi-finals – the most recent on home soil in 2006. "Our players are different now, they don't care about a past match," said Löw, adding that it was "quite possible" that he would make more changes to his team after making three for the Greece tie.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to play after seemingly shaking off an ankle problem. "Only 100% fit players will play, but everyone is fully fit right now and that goes for Bastian Schweinsteiger. He could have done better against Greece – he knows it, we all know it – but we need Bastian Schweinsteiger," Löw concluded.
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