Italy recalls Euro 2016 loss before friendly against Germany
MILAN (AP) Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said that while it's evident his players will be out for revenge in Tuesday's friendly against Germany, he's more concerned about what they can learn from playing the world champion.
Germany defeated Italy on penalties in the quarterfinal of the European Championship in July after the match had finished 1-1. It was coach Antonio Conte's final match in charge before taking over at Chelsea.
''They haven't spoken about revenge, but they have it inside them, it's clear enough,'' Ventura said on Monday. ''Even those who didn't play at the Euros. But this is certainly not a match where you need extra motivation.
''Even if it is a friendly, in reality, it is a match of top billing. Italy versus Germany is always Italy versus Germany. It gives its own motivation.''
Italy beat Liechtenstein 4-0 on Saturday in World Cup qualifying and remains second in Group G, behind Spain on goal difference.
Ventura is not expected to make many changes for Tuesday, although there are doubts over the fitness of Inter pair Antonio Candreva and Eder, both of whom have slight injuries.
''On one side, we want to keep the same structure. On the other, there are the youngsters. Then, we have to win against Germany,'' Ventura said. ''It's a really standout friendly - important and weighty, but it's still a friendly.
''Our future is not just tomorrow, but just behind it. Italy versus Germany has to be the window into the future that we want. As we're growing and planning, it's important what the match tells us. We're playing against the most organized national team of them all. We have to test ourselves in that aspect.''
Germany crushed Italy 4-1 in Munich in March and then followed it with the victory in the Euro 2016 quarterfinal in Bordeaux. Until then, Germany had not claimed a victory over the Azzurri in anything but a friendly - and it is now looking for its first three-game winning streak in the 34 matches between the sides.
The two also drew 1-1 in a friendly in Milan in 2013, their last match before this year.
''We haven't lost in the last three matches so we've dispelled that myth,'' Germany defender Mats Hummels said. ''They are always difficult matches. It's a very tough opponent, but we're not talking about a curse or a nemesis - just a squad that can trouble us, like other strong teams.''
Germany won a World Cup qualifier 8-0 in San Marino on Friday and is top of Group C, five points ahead of Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan.
Serge Gnabry had a hat trick in that match, his international debut, while Benjamin Henrichs also made his first appearance for Germany.
The other newcomer in the group, Wolfsburg midfielder Yannick Gerhardt, will get his chance in Milan.
''It's a right mix between new faces and players with more experience,'' Hummels said. ''We've had the same group since September and we've started qualification well.
''There is a great team spirit, a great working spirit, so that can only make us hopeful for a rosy future.''
Eight of Germany's 25 players are 21 or younger.
''We are fortunate that we can count on a lot of experienced players who act as mother hens,'' Germany coach Joachim Loew said. ''They guide these youngsters off the pitch as well as on it.''