Man of the Match: Mario Balotelli. The youngest player on the pitch made the biggest impact as two first-half goals fired Italy through to a Euro 2012 final against Spain. Balotelli looked lively and hungry throughout, demonstrating his strength and power to out-jump Holger Badstuber to head home his first goal, before displaying awesome acceleration and an emphatic finish for the second. Now the bookies’ favourite to win the tournament golden boot.
Germany verdict: Their defensive naivety was evident as they conceded two goals against Greece in the quarter-final and Italy exploited it to devastating effect in Warsaw. The ruthlessness in attack that had previously characterised their tournament was absent here. Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski were deservedly substituted at half-time and while Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose looked more of a threat in the second-half, they were also unable to inspire a decisive breakthrough. Mesut Ozil’s stoppage-time penalty was too little, too late.
Italy verdict: Massively under pressure in the opening ten minutes, it appeared as though they would be required to defend resolutely for 90 minutes. However, it quickly became apparent that they had the tools to both deal with Germany’s forwards and hurt their defence. Balotelli’s energy and Cassano’s guile caused plenty of problems on the break, while the defensive unit produced a number of heroic interventions to keep Low’s side at bay.
Could do better: Germany’s defence. All four defenders were at fault in some way across Italy’s two goals. For the first, Hummels let Cassano get past him to cross for Balotelli, who easily climbed above Badstuber. For the second, Boateng failed to track Balotelli and Lahm was then left completely flat-footed as the Italy striker sped away before rifling home.
Stat attack: Italy maintained their remarkable unbeaten record against Germany in tournament football. They have now won four and drawn four of their eight meetings, with the other three victories coming in the 2006 and 1970 World Cup semi-finals, and the 1982 World Cup final.