Howedes: Italy weak at the back

Germany defender Benedikt Howedes believes that Italy were not strong enough defensively against England in their Euro 2012 quarter-final victory.

Always a threat in the air.

By staff

Howedes has yet to feature for Die Mannschaft in the tournament but he is content to wait his turn. He took time out from training to discuss his team's chances ahead of their semi-final encounter with the Azzurri. 

The Schalke defender opined that Italy, despite being traditionally known as a nation famous for its defenders, are not as strong defensively as they seem. 

Led by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, the Italians have featured a back four of Leonardo Bonucci, Federico Balzaretti, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Barzagli and conceded two goals in the group stages. 

The Germans are hoping to reach a second consecutive Euro final and Howedes believes England demonstrated that the Italians are definitely "beatable". 

"Italy are a good team, who also have some very good individuals," the 24-year-old told Der Westen.

"That the Italians are good defensively is well known. But we have also seen that England came close to scoring several times and Italy are vulnerable. The Italians are beatable."

The 23-year-old accepts that many pundits are tipping his side to be favourites to lift the coveted Henri Delauney trophy. He confesses that he personally does not think his side should be talked about in such glowing terms but their impressive performances in the tournament thus far have been good.

"Maybe we're not quite at the level that we have shown before," he mused. 

"Nevertheless, we have played well and are absolutely worthy of our semi-final place. 

"There [I accept], we are favourites."

Germany play Italy in the semi-final and the Euro 2008 runner-ups have failed to beat the Italians on the past seven occasions. Italy left-back Abate could struggle to achieve full fitness ahead of the game as he suffered a minor knock near the end of regulation time against the Three Lions. 

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