Italy U21 v Germany U21 preview
European stars battle it out for a place in Monday's final
Last Updated: 26/06/09 7:02pm
Balotelli: Key man
Italy Under 21s tackle their German counterparts on Friday with a place in the European Championship final at stake.
Italy U21 v Germany U21
7pm, Fri, Sky Sports 1 & HD1
Group A winners Italy face Germany Under 21s in Helsingborg with the pair having never before met in a competitive Under 21 match.
Azzurrini coach Pierluigi Casiraghi is expecting a fierce test versus the Germans, who progressed to the semi-finals after finishing runners-up of Group B.
"There have been a few important matches between Italy and Germany, but this will be the one I remember most," the 40-year-old said on Uefa's official website.
Italy boast an impressive tournament record, having won five of their eight previous semi-finals and the European title a record five times.
Casiraghi is set to make changes to the starting XI that defeated Belarus on Tuesday, with gifted striker Mario Balotelli available after serving a suspension.
However, central midfielders Claudio Marchisio (suspended) and Paolo De Ceglie (injured) are unavailable, so Antonio Candreva and Daniele Dessena are expected to be called upon.
Germany, who beat Italy in a November friendly, head into the clash off the back of their 1-1 draw with foes England.
Coach Horst Hrubesch said: "We haven't shown everything up to now, only in patches.
"We're optimistic that we'll show our full potential against Italy. They are strong but we'll focus on our own qualities and believe we'll win.
"This team is ready to work and eat dirt if necessary. There is a good spirit and the players have grown together during the tournament. We want to win and have the right mentality."
Sebastian Boenisch should return to the left-back slot after overcoming an ankle problem, but holding midfielder Sami Khedira is a doubt after injuring his right knee in Tuesday's stalemate.
If Khedira misses out, Fabian Johnson may feature on the right with Gonzalo Castro moving into the centre. Marin and Dennis Aogo should also return after dropping to the bench against England.
European Under-21 Championship Group A
European Under-21 Championship Group B