Germany's elimination from UEFA EURO 2012 came as a shock, and Steffen Potter thinks that poor defending and inefficient finishing were their undoing in Warsaw.
The papers this morning are obsessing over how badly Germany have played at UEFA EURO 2012. I disagree. Sure, they haven't been on top of their game, but as Joachim Löw has said repeatedly, it is small things that decide knock-out matches, and last night in Warsaw, all the small things went against Germany.
Löw's lineup was a huge surprise but that seems to have little to do with the defeat, nor does the fact that Italy are regarded as Germany's "bogey team" – players are a lot less interested in stats and history than the media are.
Germany actually started well against Italy, and could have taken the lead through Mats Hummels after just five minutes, with Andrea Pirlo forced to clear off the line. However, Italy oozed class whenever they had the ball, even though that actually wasn't that often to begin with.
The defeat ultimately comes down to two simple factors.
1) Germany defended incredibly poorly for the two Italian goals
For the opener, Hummels – one of Germany's strongest players at UEFA EURO 2012 – completely missed a challenge with Antonio Cassano, who then turned provider for Mario Balotelli. The second goal then exposed the frailty of Germany's offside trap, without no pressure put on the passing player. UEFA.com's Italian reporter Paolo Menicucci was sat next to me, and couldn't fathom how badly Germany had defended for those goals, and being Italian, he knows a thing or two about defending.
2) Germany did not take their chances
It may sound too simple for some who are looking for deeper meanings, but that's just how it was. After that devastating first half, Germany created great chances for Marco Reus and Philipp Lahm within five minutes of the interval. Had they scored either, they would have been back in the game.
Ultimately, it is basic stuff: If you want to make a final of a major tournament, you cannot afford to defend as miserably as Germany did on those two occasions, and you need to make at least some of your big chances count. Italy did better than Germany in both of those departments, and they deserved to go through.
Maybe it is a small mercy. Germany have played finalists Spain twice in the last four years without getting a result, while Italy shared the points with them just two weeks ago. They can do the same, or better, on Sunday./uefa.com/