Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 23 News List

World Cup: Germany aims to erase bad memories

NEW GAME The Azzurri may have shocked the German team in a warm-up match, but Italy coach Marcello Lippi says the semi-final will be a completely different story

AFP , HAMBURG

Italy coach Marcello Lippi is pictured prior to the quarter-final match between Italy and Ukraine in Hamburg on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Italy humiliated Germany in a friendly four months ago, but Azzurri coach Marcello Lippi insists the result will have no bearing on the mouth-watering World Cup semi-final between the two teams.

Italy, who beat Ukraine 3-0 on Friday to set up a meeting against the hosts in the last four, thumped Germany 4-1 in a warm-up match on March 1, 100 days before the tournament was due to begin.

A one-sided game in Florence saw Italy billed as potential World Cup winners, while German soccer sank to an all-time low.

"We won't score four goals against Germany again," Lippi said after his team had ended Ukraine's first World Cup adventure.

"They're not the same side we met in March. That result was a bit harsh on them and a poor reflection of the German team. Now they are exploiting the enthusiasm of the whole nation and it has transformed them," he said.

"They have a good side and an excellent coach. It will be very tough for us, but it will be tough for them too," he said.

The German press crucified their team after their thrashing by Italy.

"Mamma mia, we're bad," headlined Bild, Germany's biggest-selling daily paper. "Only 99 days to go to the World Cup and our national team is playing worse than ever before. If we play like that at the World Cup we'll be obliterated."

"Germany shrinks to a football dwarf," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote.

The defeat also left Germany captain Michael Ballack fearing for his country's World Cup chances.

"Defeats like this can send you back to square one, particularly in terms of confidence and team spirit. Doubt has set in," he said.

Germany's head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was equally concerned.

"There are days when things just don't go the way you'd want them to. And days like this one, where it all goes completely wrong," he said.

Revenge will be on German minds when they meet Italy in Dortmund on Tuesday, more so because of their 1982 World Cup final defeat rather than the March friendly.

Italy beat Germany 3-1 in Spain 24 years ago to become world champions for a third time.

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