Germany try their best to lose on penalties... but fail

Antonio Conte's Italy put up a good fight but if you go to penalties against the Germans, there's only one outcome. Or so we thought. FFT's Harriet Drudge explains...

Italy had never lost to Germany in a major tournament. Germany hadn't lost a penalty shootout since 1976. So when the referee blew for full-time in extra-time with the score at 1-1, something had to give.

Inevitably, it's Germany who are through to the semi-final of Euro 2016 - though they tried their best to write a very different headline, contributing to one of the worst penalty shootouts you're likely to see (or read about).

For the first time since 1982, a German missed from the spot in a shootout. Thomas Muller's miss put an end to a quite remarkable run of 22 consecutive penalties converted. And just like London buses, another miss came shortly after.

Muller misses

Thomas Muller misses Germany's first shootout penalty since 1982

This time Mesut Özil crashed his effort against the post and later Bastian Schweinsteiger joined the party, blazing over Gianluigi's Buffon's bar.

It seemed as though it could be Italy's night. Conte's men, graced with the ever-reliable Old Lady backline, looked also to have Lady Luck on their side. Step up, Simone Zaza. Or should we say trot up.

Ultimately though, it got down to sudden death. Manchester United's Matteo Darmian saw his penalty saved by Manuel Neuer before Jonas Hector's effort snuck under Buffon to win it for the World Champions.

Risk or reward

Much of the pre-match talk focussed on Joachim Low’s decision to match Italy's formation, changing from their tried and tested set-up to a back three of Howedes, Boateng and Hummels.

It was either going to be a stroke of genius or seen as paying Italy too much respect.

What it resulted in was either an intriguing tactical battle or a dull stalemate, depending on your view of how the game should be played. If you were after free-flowing football, Bordeaux was not the place to be.

Though 0-0 at half-time and very little goalmouth action to write home about (though write I do), it was an intriguing battle between two european heavyweights. It was also perhaps quite telling that Mats Hummels made the most attacking third passes (9/12) in the first 45 as Italy managed to stifle Kroos and Özil.

Mats Hummels: 99/109 successful passes vs. Italy

Mats Hummels vs. Italy

The second half saw the Germans control possession much higher up the pitch which lead to Özil's open play goal.

Defending from the front

Though neither keeper had much to do until the shootout (three saves and one goal conceded each in 120minutes), both Neuer and Buffon like to get their respective teams playing from the back whenever possible. A point both teams picked up on. Both sets of attackers pressed high when not in possession and even put pressure on goal kicks, surrounding the penalty area and making it difficult for both men between the sticks.

Two greats: Buffon and Neuer

Buffon and Neuer

They're not two of the best goalkeepers in the world for nothing, though. Neuer had an 84% pass completion rate, misplacing just seven passes and started the move that lead to the opener; Buffon completed 34/40 passes (85%).

Pass completion 'keepers: Buffon and Neuer passes

Pass completion 'keepers

Hummels will be a big miss

Five of the Germany team went into the match versus Italy knowing that if they picked up a yellow card they would miss the semi-final should they progress. Mats Hummels was one.

The Bayern Munich man topped the charts for successful passes (99 - the same as Toni Kross) and take-ons (2/2) and coolly slotted away a penalty in the shootout. His composure, creativity and experience will be missed in the semi-final.

Hummels suspended for semi

Mats Hummels battles for the ball vs. Italy

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