Love or hate Italy for its defensive reputation, the truth is the Azzurri won not only because Cesar Prandelli got his organization and tactics right, but because Italy has cultivated the ability to attack with maximum efficiency.
The first goal was a brilliant piece of skill from Antonio Cassano and the proper positioning and strength of Mario Balotelli.
The second goal was more Italian in that it was a counter attack. With Germany throwing numbers forward, Italy knew that Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber were always susceptible to long balls at the back. Super Mario positioned himself in-between the two and Riccardo Montolivo had the presence of mind to look up and send the mercurial striker off to the races.
What was more impressive, however, was the way Italy attacked in the second half.
Balotelli pushed out wide to stretch the center backs knowing that the German wingbacks were most likely going to get forward at all cost. Not only did this stretch the back line and allow Balotelli or whoever occupied this space to cut in from wide positions, but it also meant they could help out with the defensive responsibilities along the wings rather than just sitting in the center circle.
Even more telling was that when the Italians did counter, they made sure to get numbers forward. This wasn’t solely for the purpose of finding the knockout blow, but rather to make sure that if they lost the ball, their lines would still be compact.
The counter attack works when there is space to operate quickly on the break. By Italy having numbers forward, the Germans had to work through a compressed 40-yard space before they could even think of finding the outlet ball.
When the lines were breached, Italy showed its desire to retreat and get back into position before continuing with its documented determination to get stuck in.
While chances were missed for Italy to seal the deal, the bottom line is Germany squandered its opportunities to change the complexion of the game, while Balotelli did enough in the first half to ensure it was another Italian job well done.
Follow Marc Serber on Twitter: @SoccerSerber
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