Captain Philipp Lahm insists Germany must beat Italy in tomorrow night's friendly to end 16-years of defeat at the hands of the Azzurri. "We want to prove that we belong amongst the world's best football nations and break this Italy curse," said Lahm.
Germany host Italy in Dortmund at the same Signal Iduna Park stadium where the Italians knocked the hosts out of the 2006 World Cup on their way to winning the title. Germany have a poor record in matches between the two nations with Italy enjoying 14 wins compared to Germany's seven victories with eight games drawn.
The last time Germany beat Italy was a 2-0 win in Zurich in June 1995 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Football Federation and coach Joachim Loew wants to correct the record. 'We haven't beaten Italy for nearly 16 years, from those statistics, you can see they are a team we have feared in the past," said the 51-year-old. "I want to break that record, that is our goal. We want to continue last year's trend."
Italy have won all of the last four meetings between the teams and after his side finished third at the last World Cup, while the Azzurri failed to qualify from their group, Loew is keen to ensure his side continue their form. Although a friendly, this is a clash of the European heavyweights as Germany have three World Cup titles to their name, while Italy have lifted the cup four times.
Both Loew and Lahm are wary of Cesare Prandelli's squad with the Azzurri rebuilding and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been recalled less than a month after making his injury comeback to bring some experience to the side. "It is still a team which can defend very well and can control the pace of the game," said Loew. "They are an opponent who demands we give everything against them."
Loew called a lengthy team meeting this morning and the Germans are taking this game very seriously as they look to continue their 2010 form. With Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil and Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller adding some pace to Germany's attack, veteran striker Miroslav Klose is set to start as he looks to add to his 58 goals. Teenage midfield wunderkind Mario Goetze is set to win only his second cap after a series of impressive displays for German league leaders Dortmund.
Five of the Dortmund team are in the Germany squad and they are all under 23. With their team 12-points clear at the top of the German league, Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Kevin Grosskreutz and Sven Bender are all used to winning regularly.
"It is great that so many young players advance, but we are not interested in creating an illusion of youth. Quality is what counts," said Loew.