Germany have no time for statistics or history lessons as they prepare to face Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals despite having failed to win against them in any of their seven previous world and European tournament match-ups.
The Germans, who lost to Italy at the same stage of the 2006 World Cup in front of a home crowd, said facts and figures did not matter with their young squad starved for success.
“Statistics like the one that we have never beaten the Italians in a tournament do not count for us,” said goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke, who was in goal for their 0-0 goalless draw against Italy in the group stage at Euro 96 that saw Germany advance to the next round.
“We want to rewrite history, a different history,” said Koepke.
Among other high-profile defeats against Italy were the 1982 World Cup final and the 1970 World Cup semi-final.
“Italy have been surprising at this tournament and they fully deserve to be in the last four,” said playmaker Mesut Ozil. “There was a lot of negative stuff written about them before the tournament but they have showed how good a team they are.”
The Italians edged past England on Sunday with a 4-2 win on penalties after a goalless draw over 120 minutes in which they missed a string of chances.
“But we know who we are and what we can do. We do not look back, just forward. We are not interested in the past. If we play as we know we can then we can beat them,” said Ozil.
Just like 2006 when Italy were eventually crowned world champions, the team came into the tournament with unwanted headlines at home of a domestic match-fixing scandal.
“They have had the advantage of no one really rating them highly with the match-fixing scandal just like in 2006,” said Koepke. “But even without having many top names they have played more offensively.”
Koepke had special praise for Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who saved one spot kick, and midfielder Andrea Pirlo whose chipped penalty was the turning point for his team in the shootout.
“We all saw that Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. It is not easy to beat him but our team is in a position to score against any goalkeeper.
“Pirlo’s spot kick was audacious. With Italy a penalty behind he goes and does that, something a keeper does not expect,” he said.
“It shows his mental strength but we are also mentally strong. We are a young team but experienced. I hope it does not come to penalties and we win it before that,” said Koepke, who himself saved a spot kick against Italy in the 1996 match.