WC treat in the offing at Dortmund

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Ap_germanyfans.jpg' class='caption'> Italy and Germany played one of the most memorable games in World Cup history and fans could get a treat from the two teams in Tueday's semifinal.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Italy and Germany played one of the most memorable games in World Cup history. It might be too optimistic to expect another when they meet in Tuesday's semifinal in Dortmund. Still, with some exciting strikers on both sides, fans could get a treat from two teams with three titles each. World Cup history speaks for Italy, but Germany is playing at home, at its favourite stadium in the country. Germany has never lost at Dortmund's noisy stadium and has only one draw in 14 games. "We like going back to our favourite stadium," coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "It's not just my stadium but it has become our stadium," Borussia Dortmund defender Christoph Metzelder said. "It's really motivating to come to Dortmund and play the semifinals. "It will be a match Germany hasn't seen to date. I hope we can exploit the atmosphere of the stadium." Klinsmann's young team may need all the support it can get. Italy won't be without friends, drawing support from its considerable community in Germany. Germany has never beaten Italy in four World Cup matches, including two draws. At the 1970 semifinal in Mexico, Italy won 4-3 in extra time in one of the World Cup's most dramatic games. They also met in a final, in 1982, when Italy won 3-1, their most recent World Cup match. Italy also leads the all-time series 13-7, with eight draws. Germany began the tournament with relatively low expectations. But Klinsmann's team, like many of the previous German sides, has grown during the tournament and his men go into the semifinal full of confidence. "We are hungry for more," Klinsmann said. His team had a tougher road into the semifinals, only getting past Argentina on penalties after a 1-1 draw in extra time. Italy cruised past Ukraine 3-0 and has conceded only an own-goal. Italy's toughest obstacles in reaching the World Cup semifinals have come from home. The Azzurri have persevered amid a Serie A corruption scandal and the grave condition of former teammate Gianluca Pessotto, who was hospitalised in Turin after falling out of a window. "I think, if anything, that scandal has welded the team together," Germany assistant coach Joachim Loew said. "I think the scandal will work to their favor as ironic as that may sound. That scandal has generated team spirit." Germany's leaders, captain Michael Ballack and striker Miroslav Klose, both injured their calves against Argentina. Klose didn't finish the match and was replaced after scoring the equaliser in the 80th minute, while Ballack played on throughout the extra time. Klose has scored five of Germany's 11 goals and leads the tournament. "They are getting physiotherapy and both will be fit and able to play on Tuesday," Loew said. Germany called off Sunday's practice, saying the team would have a fitness session instead. The team has not trained since Friday's game, except for a recovery session on Saturday. Italy defender Alessandro Nesta is almost sure to miss the game because of a right thigh injury. Tests on Nesta's leg showed improvement but his chances of playing against Germany are "very remote," team spokesman Antonello Valentini said yesterday. Nesta missed Italy's last two games. In their last meeting, a friendly in Florence in March, Italy won 4-1, a defeat that nearly cost Klinsmann his job. "We are not thinking of that now at all," Loew said. "We are a different team now." (AP)

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