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7.04.2006

Ballack and Klose ready to make history against Italy in the semifinals

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Host team Germany will face Italy today in one of the semifinals of the World Cup, with Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose - their two best players - ready for the battle.

We must mention that Italy and Germany have met 28 times before with the "Azurri" holding a 13 -7 advantage in wins, and with Germany not having beaten Italy since a friendly in Zurich in 1995 when they won 2-0 and Italy having been the most recent victors in a 4-1 drubbing in March.

In fact, the scandals back in Italy are a strange omen as the last time the side lifted the trophy there were similar problems with the domestic tournament. The 1982 World Cup saw the Azzuri prevail and it was the Germans whom they defeated 3-1 in the final.

The press were calling for the resignation of head coach Jürgen Klinsmann after the game, but since that defeat Germany have been on excellent form with five consecutive wins - a new record for Germany at an individual final - and the squad will be out to erase the memory of that defeat.

“We just lost several times to Italy over the years and have a score to settle,” said Torsten Frings - who is suspended for the match following a brawl after the penalty shoot-out with Argentina.

And coach Klinsmann think that now is the time for his team to excel, saying: ‘The team has grown over the last six weeks and it is a team which is saying they can be world champions once again: “We have taken a giant step but there are two more to take to reach our target” he said.

The Bavarian team have no injury worries after captain Michael Ballack and top scorer Miroslav Klose are now fit after shrugging off minor injuries, but will be without Frings through his suspension.

In the other hand, Italy are likely to be without defender Alessandro Nesta, who also missed the last match, after failing to recover from a groin strain.

These are the line-ups:

Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm, Schneider, Borowski, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose

Italy: Buffon, Zambrotta, Materazzi, Cannavaro, Grosso, Perrotta, Gattuso, Pirlo, Totti, Toni, Gilardino

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