Jaymes Monte previews the betting for the hotly anticipated Euro 2012 semi-final between Germany v Italy on Thursday night and gives us his top tips on where the value lies.
Germany v Italy – Best Bet Tips:
Draw/Germany in HT/FT @ 18/5
Germany have undoubtedly been the most impressive team in Euro 2012 to date. Their attacking and positive mentality means that they are the only team in the tournament to have won all four of their games, and ensures that they go into this semi-final with Italy as strong favourites to progress.
The Italians will know that they need to be more ruthless in front of goal than they were against England in the quarters. Had they taken their chances inside then they would have been comfortable winners on the night and avoided the lottery of penalties. Nevertheless, they got the job done in the shootout and therefore take a rightful place in the last four of Euro 2012.
It is expected that Bastian Schweinsteiger will be named in the German starting XI despite struggling with an ankle ligament injury that was picked up earlier this year. The Italians will give late fitness tests to Ignazio Abate, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele De Rossi as all three aim to recover from muscle complaints.
Despite the Germans going into the game as strong 10/11 favourites in the Match Odds market and at 4/11 to qualify for the final, it is the Italians that have the considerably better record in head-to-head meetings at major tournaments. Including matches against West Germany Italy are unbeaten in the last seven meetings at World Cup and European Championships.
The most recent meeting between the teams came at the 2006 World Cup when the Azzurri won 2-0 in extra-time after a goalless 90 minutes. On that occasion the Italians did, of course, go on to lift the trophy. The 0-0 draw is a 7/1 shot here, it is 10/1 that Italy go through in extra time and 11/2 that captain Gianluigi Buffon goes on to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy.
But in order to repeat the feat of six years ago, the Italians must also overcome a fatigue factor that does not come into consideration for their opponents. While Italy were required to play 120 minutes against England as recently as Sunday, the Germans booked their place in the last four two days earlier inside 90 minutes.
Joachim Loew also took the perhaps somewhat arrogant, but ultimately justified, step of resting his first-choice strike trio of Mario Gomez, Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski for their quarter-final against Greece.
Going into the semi-finals Mario Gomez is the joint-top scorer in the tournament with three goals from three starts. The Bayern Munich forward is the 9/2 favourite to break the deadlock and just 5/4 to score at anytime. Mario Balotelli provided Italy’s biggest threat against England, although his finishing left a little to be desired, he is 7/1 to open the scoring and 15/8 to get on the scoresheet at anytime.
The German’s provide a much sterner test for Italy than England did and although I expect a tight game early on the fresher legs of Die Mannschaft should prove telling in the latter stages. For that reason Draw/Germany in the HT/FT market looks to be the best bet.