Italy defeated Germany 2-1 on Thursday courtesy of a pair of goals from controversial striker Mario Balotelli. When you have Balotelli and world class goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon having their best day on either end of the pitch, there is little you can do, to win. Balotelli was at his lethal best, scoring twice in the first half. The first one was cleverly set up by Antonio Cassano, who ran into two German defenders, turned past them to find Balotelli, who drilled a powerful header past Manuel Neuer. This one could be attributed to a major defense lapse, as Balotelli's marker Holger Badstuber did not even attempt to defend it.
The second one, was pure genius. Germany were caught on a counter attack, as Riccardo Montolivo, found Balotelli on the far side of the pitch and Balotelli made no mistake beating the off side trap and released a powerful shot with only Neuer to beat. The goal sparked some signature Balotelli style celebration, who stood still taking his shirt off. It was good to see even Neuer applaud the goal. This was mainly due to the fact that the Germans never first conceded a goal in this tournament, and looked lost after Italy scored quickly inside the first 20 minutes.
Germany made two quick changes in the start of the second half, with Miroslav Klose coming in for Mario Gomez who looked lost and Marco Reus came in for Lukas Podolski. The inclusion of Reus brought some life into the German attack as he forced an excellent save by Gigi Buffon, off this free kick.
Being two goals down, German coach Joachim Loew, introduced Thomas Muller for Jerome Boateng, to add more ammo to their attack. But bringing a natural attacker like Muller so late into the game with only 20 minutes left, was not exactly the best of moves by Loew. Germany piled up the pressure on the Italian goal, with Mats Hummel coming close, only for a lucky save by Buffon. On the other end the Italian's were slipping continuously near the German goal and did not look at any mood to score anymore.
The Germans were rewarded for their continuous attacks, when Federico Balzaretti, handled the ball inside the penalty area. Mesut Ozil took the penalty and scored off a powerful left footer. But the goal came too late, as there were only two minutes left.
Overall, Italy looked the better team and they deservedly go in to the finals where they will meet Spain. These two played the first group match which ended in a 1-1 draw. Expect to have a cracker of a game on Sunday.