While Wales will still be basking in the afterglow of their brilliant win over Belgium in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016, and looking to join them in the semifinals will be two of the biggest teams in Europe – Germany and Italy. In the most awaited quarterfinal clash, the world champions and the former World Cup and European Championship winners go head to head in what should be a match that sets this Euro 2016 tournament alight.
While Germany are the bogey team of many a footballing giant, Italy are the team that the Germans fear the most, or at least should. In eight previous major tournament meetings, Germany have never beaten Italy, so it is with an eye towards history that the world champions will take the field to on Saturday.
Germany have cruised through Euro 2016 in autopilot, doing what they need to do to get to the quarterfinals, while Italy have put in two of the best performances of the tournament so far. They started their Euro 2016 campaign with a thoroughly impressive win over Belgium, before Antonio Conte's men taught the defending European champions a footballing lesson in the round of 16.
That 2-0 win over Spain will give Italy all the confidence they need to topple Germany, apart from the brilliant major tournament record against their opponents, of course.
Italy, though, will go into this match with a bit of a worry over their key midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who is a major doubt with a thigh injury. If De Rossi, who was forced off with the injury against Spain, misses out, Stefano Sturaro is the one expected to fill his place in the Italy lineup, owing to Thiago Motta being suspended and Antonio Candreva being ruled out with an adductor injury, which also kept him out of the win over Spain.
Italy manager Conte refused to elaborate on De Rossi's chances of playing in this Euro 2016 quarterfinal, but he did insist all players in his starting XI need to be 100% fit, understandable, considering the opponents are Germany.
"We're not going to speculate on the condition of Daniele De Rossi, but we should say that players must be fully fit for these very intense matches," Conte told reporters. "I'm very confident in the overall quality of my squad."
That particular quality could be diminished seriously if Italy reach the semifinals with a few yellow cards in tow. Eleven Italy players are in danger of missing the next match, if they receive a yellow in this quarterfinal against Germany. Leading the players in danger are the peerless back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, with Gianluigi Buffon, Salvatore Sirigu, De Rossi, Mattia De Sciglio, Lorenzo Insigne, Simone Zaza, Eder and Graziano Pelle also walking the tightrope.
Germany have five players – Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil – in a similar position, but, crucially, Joachim Low does not have any injury concerns ahead of this crunch match, with Boateng, Khedira and Julian Draxler all recovering from minor knocks.
That means Low is likely to stick with the same playing XI, which dismantled Slovakia 3-0, with Mario Gomez, yet again, set to start up front, ahead of Thomas Muller, Ozil and Draxler, with Toni Kroos pulling the strings in midfield alongside Khedira.
Confirmed starting XI: Germany: Neuer; Howedes, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Kimmich, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil; Muller, Gomez.
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Sturaro, Parolo, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Pelle, Eder.