After a breath-taking 120 minutes of football and a penalty shootout, Joachim Low’s Germany reigned supreme over Antonio Conte’s Italy in a classic tactical battle between two of the best coaches in world football.
A game that would have made a perfect booking for a cup final, was only a quarter-final encounter. Two of Europe’s, if not the world’s best sides, took on each other in what was probably the most tactical game of the Euro 2016. German coach Joachim Low deployed an identical 3-5-2 system as his opposite number Antonio Conte, and for 120 minutes the two strategies cancelled each other out.
Mesut Ozil and Leonardo Bonucci scored the two goals in regulation time, before the game headed into extra-time. In the extra thirty, both sides failed to find the back of the net, and only the dreaded penalties could decide the outcome of the tie. A shootout that saw many players crack under pressure, eventually ended with Germany on the winning side. Jonas Hector stepped up to score the winning spot-kick to send his team into the final four.
Here’s how TheHardTackle rated the 22 starters:
Manuel Neuer: 8
Was infallible all night long, and if it hadn’t been for Jerome Boateng’s ball handling inside the box, the German goalkeeper would have kept his clean sheet record intact. Made some fantastic saves in the penalty shootout to win the game for Die Mannschaft.
Benedikt Höwedes: 6
Was often bullied by Pelle in the air, but made up for his exploits with a solid defensive display.
Jerome Boateng: 6.5
It was a good performance from the Bayern Munich defender as his physical presence kept the Italian attackers from having a go at Neuer in the Germany goal. However, it was due to his helpless attempt to win the ball, that Italy were awarded a penalty to claw their way back into the game. Apart from that, he was composed throughout, and also calmly netted his spot-kick in the shootout.
Mats Hummels: 7
The soon-to-be Bayern Munich defender had a decent outing, but received a yellow card that ruled him out of Germany’s semi-final game against either France or Iceland.
Jonas Hector: 7.5
Playing slightly out of position in an advanced wing-back role, the 24-year-old was resolute on both ends of the field, and also played the pass for Ozil’s opening goal.
Joshua Kimmich: 7
On the other end, the youngster’s first international tournament kept better as he put in another spirited effort against the mighty Italians.
Sami Khedira: 2
Limped off with an injury after just 14 minutes, and failed to impact proceedings during his time on the pitch.
Toni Kroos: 8.5
Dictated terms from midfield and was one of the best players on the day. His exquisite passing ability was a sight to behold.
Mesut Ozil: 7
Scored a scrappy goal in the first half, but managed to have a major say in proceedings post his strike. His shootout howler, was his second missed penalty of the competition.
Thomas Muller: 5
It was yet another disappointing game for the 26-year-old, as he failed to open his account in the competition. He also failed to convert from the spot, which added to the attacker’s woes.
Mario Gomez: 6.5
Was sharp inside the opposition area, and had a couple of decent hits at Buffon’s goal. However, his theatrical effort at the stroke of half-time flew inches over the cross-bar.
Gianluigi Buffon: 7
The Italian number one made some telling saves in regulation time as well as in the penalty shootout to keep his side in the hunt. Unfortunately, despite playing with his heart on his sleeve, he ended up on the losing side.
Andrea Barzagli: 7
Another solid performance for the Juventus defender. Rarely put a foot wrong throughout the course of the match, and calmly converted in the shoot-out.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6.5
It was a day of two penalties for the veteran enforcer. He managed to convert in regulation time to equalize for the Italians, but got cold feet in the shootout and was denied by Neuer.
Giorgio Chiellini: 7.5
Was the best defender on the day for the Azzuri, as he constantly stymied Thomas Muller from having a hit on goal.
Alessandro Florenzi: 8
Deputising for the injured Antonio Candreva, the versatile wing-back made constant runs up and down the right-flank and provide offensive as well as defensive cover.
Mattia Di Sciglio: 5.5
Committed himself unnecessarily and was often caught out of position. Wasn’t a good game for the left wing-back.
Marco Parolo: 7
His good run at the Euros continued with another fine midfield performance against an adept German outfit.
Stefano Sturaro: 6.5
Came in for the injured Danielle De Rossi and provided a decent amount of protection to the back three.
Emanuele Giaccherini: 8.5
Was outstanding throughout the 120 minutes. He put in a tireless display in Bordeuax, and was constantly on the periphery about everything happening offensively for the Italians. Combined well with the strikers, and was arguably the best player on the field.
Was the creative cog in the Azzuri lineup and created a number of chances for striker Graziano Pelle.
Graziano Pelle: 5
Put his physical frame to good use, but failed to make the most of the chances created for him. An off day for the Southampton striker.