Germany's coach Joachim Loew (AFP)
For Germany coach Joachim Loew, all of his country's previous failures to beat Italy at a major tournament will count for nothing when the two sides meet on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the European Championship.
''We have no Italy-trauma, because it's a different team now and there are always different factors at play,'' Loew said Tuesday at the team's tournament base at Evian-les-Bains.
''So I think nothing of things that are dragged in from the past. It's cold coffee. We prefer a fresh espresso. We have to make sure it tastes very good on Saturday.''
Loew's biggest disappointment in almost 10 years in charge came in the semifinals four years ago, when Italy forward Mario Balotelli struck twice in Warsaw to knock his side out with a 2-1 defeat.
The loss still hangs over the Germany coach, though he said it also helped him lead the side to World Cup success in Brazil in 2014.
''As a coach I thought about it. What happened? What mistakes were made? And for me personally, this loss - which was painful, which hurt me very much - it helped me in 2014 with certain decisions at the tournament. You can always make a mistake as a player or a coach. It was a good lesson for me,'' Loew said.
Loew said he had devised a tactical plan to minimize Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo's influence on the game four years ago.
''The plan didn't work out and I have to take responsibility for that . On this day we didn't bring the performance that was required. I think in hindsight this helped us in 2014,'' the 56-year-old coach said.
Loew was also present as assistant coach to Jurgen Klinsmann when Italy knocked Germany out of its home World Cup in 2006, after Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero scored in extra-time to end the German ''summer fairy tale'' in the semifinals.
Of eight meetings between the countries at tournaments, starting with a goalless draw at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, Germany has won none. Now Germans call Italy their ''Angstgegner'' or ''feared opponent.''
But Loew believes Saturday's game in Bordeaux ''will be very close and the outcome is relatively open.''
Germany can take hope from its 4-1 friendly defeat of Italy in Munich on March 29. It was Germany's biggest win over its old rival and its first in more than 20 years
''We're not afraid of Italy. We have trust in our own performance levels and if we deliver them then we have good chances of winning the game,'' Loew said. ''Italy are at a top level with experienced players. They have a defense from Juventus that has played together for ages, they know each other blindfold. It'll be difficult.''
Italy impressed in with a disciplined and tenacious performance to eliminate two-time defending champion Spain with a 2-0 victory on Monday. Loew said he wasn't surprised by Italy's progress.
''If you see how they defend, that's bread and butter for the Italians. They defend with nine or 10 men. They make the space so tight that even Spain, an outstanding team with the ball, can't find a way through at times,'' he said.
''Italy were written off before the tournament,'' the Germany coach said. ''Nobody believed in the Italians. I knew they had qualities and strengths. People said the Italians were too old, that the Italians only valued their defense. The truth is different. They have a team built on experience, class and defensive basis. Those are the foundations to win a tournament but you also have to score points in offense. Now they can do that too.''
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