Beaten 2-1 by Germany at the same juncture in 2009, Italy find their route to the UEFA Women's EURO semi-finals once again blocked by the seven-time continental champions.
Goals either side of half-time from Inka Grings settled the issue in Lahti four years ago, with Patrizia Panico's 63rd-minute reply proving a mere consolation. Memories of that gut-wrenching reverse have haunted Italy schemer Alice Parisi – who watched events unfold from the bench aged just 18 – ever since. "I remember a header from Patrizia that was saved by Nadine Angerer at the death. If that had gone in, it would have taken the game to extra time," she told UEFA.com.
Only after Germany's surprising 1-0 defeat by Norway on Wednesday – their first in this tournament for more than 17 years – could Italy take stock of their last-eight opponents. Instantaneous smiles filled the face of each player eager to exorcise the demons of 2009, while an opportunity to upset the pre-eminent force in women's football serves as an added incentive.
"The first feeling was one of revenge," said Parisi. "Playing Germany gives us that extra motivation because of the way we went out in 2009 and the fact they are a big name in the competition.
"We play to win every game," the midfielder continued, epitomising the positive mentality that permeates Antonio Cabrini's party. "The fact they have struggled gives us confidence. They had lots of players who pulled out through injury and are a very young team. You can't question their quality, but they are probably lacking experience."
After a stylish 2-1 success over Denmark on matchday two, an Italy XI comprising several fresh faces succumbed 3-1 to hosts Sweden on Tuesday. Parisi had plenty of reasons to be cheerful, however. "Italy are growing as a group and in terms of morale. We had lots of players making their debut against Sweden, so it was difficult, yet they still performed admirably. It confirmed that we are not just 11 players but 23," she said.
Runners-up in Group A, Cabrini's charges pride themselves on being a tight-knit unit, though when Parisi was pressed to name one member of the Azzurre squad capable of producing something out of the ordinary, her response was instant. "Easy: Melania Gabbiadini," she said.
"She is probably the one player who could play for anyone in the world due to her physicality and skill. She also has a wonderful change of pace and an eye for a pass. We always play as a team but she can often do it by herself. Then there is Panico [another forward], whose experience is vital."
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