One day before Euro 2012 semi-final game between Italy & Germany -two great football nations- let's check some of greatest matches these team played against each other.
Greatest FIFA game of all time - Italy 4-3 Germany (World Cup 1970 semi final)
The two giants of Europe were doing battle to decide who would line up in the final against the winner of the all South American tie between Brazil and Uruguay, played at Guadalajara on the same day. The Italians had been crowned European champions two years earlier, while the Germans had finished runners-up at the last FIFA World Cup ™ in England. At the start of the game, stifled by the high stakes and the oppressive heat of Mexico's brand new Azteca Stadium, both sides kept it tight, content to sit back and ease their way into the game. The spectators were also unusually subdued, and even the ball seemed lifeless, prompting Sepp Maier to ask for it to be changed early on.
But it was the Italians who turned this false rhythm to their advantage, springing a surprise on the West German team led by the old lion Uwe Seeler. In the eighth minute, Roberto Boninsegna exchanged a defence-splitting one-two with Luigi Riva before dispatching an unstoppable half-volley from 16 metres out which left Sepp Maier rooted to the spot. Game on.
The Germans responded immediately, with the main threat coming from rising star Franz Beckenbauer, first with a pass into space which Gerd Müller just failed to reach, then a 40-yard burst of acceleration before he was stopped in his tracks by a questionable challenge from Squadra Azzurra captain Giacinto Facchetti.
Italy 3-1 Germany (World Cup 1982 Final)
The Squadra Azzura kicked off and immediately sought to impose their pace on the game. But their German opponents, coached by Jupp Derwall, created the first chance with only two minutes on the clock. Littbarski broke down the left and steered a diagonal pass to Klaus Fischer, who found Littbarski again with the return. The winger known as 'Litti' fired goalwards, but Italian goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff gathered easily enough.
German captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was in the thick of the action just a few minutes later, as he wriggled past Bergomi and Cabrini in the penalty area and drove in a shot on the turn, only to see the ball fly narrowly wide of Zoff's goal.
With five minutes on the clock, the Italian bench rose to their feet after a collision in midfield between Wolfgang Dremmler and Francesco Graziani. Graziani went down after a hefty shoulder-charge from the German strongman, and was unlucky to land on his right shoulder. Brazilian referee Arnaldo Coelho waved play on, and Germany put together a move down the left with the Italian striker still prone on the half-way line, his face etched with pain.
Graziani eventually pulled himself to his feet and struggled on for a couple of minutes, but he was obviously in trouble and Allesandro Altobelli came on for the injured front-man after just seven minutes.
Italy 2-0 Germany (World Cup 2006 semi final)
Germany comfortably won Group A with victories over Costa Rica (4-2), Poland (1-0) and Ecuador (3-0). Neither last 16 opponents Sweden, who were beaten 2-0 in Munich, nor quarter-final foes Argentina proved able to stop the home juggernaut, although the last eight meeting in Berlin went to a penalty shoot-out, which the hosts won 4-2.
For their part, the Azzurri finished first in Group E. After victories over Czech Republic (3-0) and Ghana (2-0), coach Marcello Lippi's men sealed top spot with a 1-1 draw against the USA. In the Round of 16 and quarter-finals, the Italians fell back on their famed defensive nous with a 1-0 win over Australia and a 3-0 victory against Ukraine to seal a semi-final berth, where they arrived on the back of conceding just once in five games.