Warsaw: Germany will snap a barren tournament run against Italy in their Euro 2012 semi-final on Thursday, proving they are capable of beating the best in the world, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said on Wednesday.
The Germans, three-time world and European champions, have a surprisingly bad record against the Azzurri, having won only seven of their 30 encounters and none of their seven tournament matches.
"I think the time has come to beat the next big opponent," said Schweinsteiger. "We have already beaten Argentina, England, Netherlands and Brazil and I think Italy are next."
The Germans, in their fourth straight tournament semi-final, beat England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 in the 2010 World Cup knockout stages.
They then notched their first win over Brazil in 18 years, when they won 3-2 in August 2011, and have twice defeated 2010 World Cup runners-up Netherlands in the last seven months, including 2-1 at the Euro 2012 group stage.
"We certainly have respect for them for what Italy have achieved here, especially with the football scandals back home. But we have no fear," said Schweinsteiger.
The midfielder also declared himself "100 percent fit" after missing training earlier this week with an ankle injury, saying: "I'm optimistic. This is the highlight of a long season for us."
Coach Joachim Loew said the key to success would be to deny the Italians the space to play their game.
"We can beat any team in the world. Not that we will win against everyone but we can. The important thing is to impose our own rhythm.," he said.
"We don't want to be reacting to the opponents' game," said the 52-year-old. "It could be the case that we will try to exhaust them with a high tempo."
Loew did not rule out again springing surprise changes in his lineup as he did in their 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece when he overhauled his forward line.
"I could make some changes with players who do not need a long run-up," said Loew referring to those squad members who can come into the side and make an immediate impact. "I do not take decisions based on what could happen. I am led by conviction," .