Franz Beckenbauer blamed a "lifeless" first half for Germany's UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final exit to Italy last night. A Mario Balotelli double before half-time stunned Joachim Low's side, who had gone into the match as favourites after winning their past 14 competitive matches.
Mesut Ozil pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in injury-time of an improved second half, but it came too late to leave Germany without a major title since EURO 96. "It hurts alot. Too bad. Too bad. I thought after 16 years after winning Euro 96 in England that we were again ready to win a title," former Germany coach and captain Beckenbauer wrote in Bild.
"Something is still missing. Now we will have to wait another two years for a title shot. The first-half performance was a mystery to me after we performed so confidently in the four games beforehand. The first 45 minutes were deeply disappointing. That was not the true German team."
"They seemed completely lifeless. Rather than set the pace of the game and put pressure on the Italians they could not get control of the midfield against a clever opponent. Then there were two defensive errors for the goals."
Beckenbauer, 66, lamented the "curse" Italy have over Germany at major tournaments - having remarkably still never beaten them in a competitive match - but believes reaching the semi-final was still a good achievement for a young team.
"I think we have too much respect (for Italy). The talk about the curse of Italy seemed to paralyse the players," he wrote. "Despite being disappointed we should not forget that reaching the semi-final is not disastrous. Other major footballing nations such as England, France and Holland would have liked to achieve that."