Germany captain Philipp Lahm has criticised semi-final opponents Italy for failing to get past England without the need for penalty kicks, and also revealed he would much rather have faced Roy Hodgson's men for a place in Sunday's final.
Italy booked their place in Thursday night's last four match after a 4-2 shootout win followed a goalless draw. But Italy dominated the game and wasted a host of gilt-edged opportunities to win the game before it went to spot-kicks.
Lahm said: “We wanted England. They carried less of a threat than Italy and history dictates that we always come out on top against the English. We watched the game at our hotel and England were comprehensively outplayed.
“It should never have reached penalties. The Italians only had themselves to blame for allowing the game to reach that point. They were very wasteful in front of goal. If that had been Germany, we would have put England out of their misery during the 90 minutes.“The only thing you can say is you must admire the way England managed to hang in and refused to go home quietly. When it went to penalties it could have been anyone’s game. There are days when everything goes for you and others when they don’t. But it would have been a massive injustice had Italy failed to win.
“The other advantage of facing England is memories of us beating them 4-1 at the 2010 World Cup would have been at the forefront of their minds. And to be fair, Germany have improved since then whereas England have struggled, particularly at this tournament."
Germany have been hugely impressive in reaching the last four and are favourites to see of Italy, but Lahm is aware of the talent in the Azzurri ranks.
“We came into the tournament determined to reach the final and nothing has changed," he said. "As a team we’re growing in confidence. We’re getting stronger and stronger as we progress. Of course, Italy carry a threat. [Andrea] Pirlo is having a great tournament and is at the heart of everything good about Italy.
“It’s important we address the threat and limit the time he has on the ball. And [Mario] Balotelli is very dangerous if he’s given time and space. But, as ever, we have left nothing to chance. Our preparations have been meticulous, we have taken everything into account, even practising penalties at every opportunity, if they’re required.“Naturally people will expect us to win - but we are accustomed to these expectations. Germany would not be Germany if there wasn’t pressure. But we have always thrived in this situation.
“Our biggest challenge at this tournament still awaits us if we reach the final. But this is a team that will deal with anything that is thrown at us. We are on course to make history and we are in no mood to disappoint.”