Germany vs Italy at Euro 2016: Three key players

Germany midfielder Julian Draxler (left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring
Image: Germany midfielder Julian Draxler (left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring

Two international heavyweights take to the stage on Saturday as Germany face Italy in the penultimate quarter-final of Euro 2016.

Italy have proved pre-tournament doubters wrong after an impressive victory over reigning champions Spain, while Joachim Low's Germany romped into the last eight with a 3-0 win over group B winners Slovakia.

Here, we look at three players who could find themselves in the spotlight at Nouveau Stade Bordeaux.

Emanuele Giaccherini

Emanuele Giaccherini of Italy celebrates
Image: Emanuele Giaccherini of Italy celebrates

Sunderland arguably have one of Italy's best performers of the tournament on their books.

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An unsuccessful spell on Wearside led to Giaccherini spending the 2015/16 campaign with Bologna, where he subsequently flourished. Now the national team and incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reportedly wants to take the midfielder to Stamford Bridge.

With Germany still searching for a first tournament win over the Italians, Giaccherini is certain to be presented with a battle against Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but as he showed with his goal against Belgium, he is capable of utilising his 5ft5in frame to nip ahead of defenders to make a difference.

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Julian Draxler

LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 12:  Julian Draxler of Germany runs with the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Germany and Ukraine at Stade Pierre-
Image: Julian Draxler of Germany runs with the ball against Ukraine

It is easy to forget that Julian Draxler is just 22 years old. Aged 18, he made his debut for the German national side in 2012 and just two years later had a World Cup winners' medal hanging round his neck. Take that, coupled with more than 140 Bundesliga appearances, and you have a player on your hands.

Draxler registered his second-highest career goal tally at Wolfsburg last season, following a move from boyhood club Schalke, and bookmakers have this week slashed odds on the winger joining Manchester United.

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After a stellar performance against Slovakia, in which he scored and laid on an assist for Mario Gomez, he will go into the quarter-final brimming with confidence and Germany will hope hiscreativity will help to further strengthen a connection with Gomez that will fire them to the last four.

Jerome Boateng

Germany's defender Jerome Boateng (2ndR) kicks the ball from his goal line during the Euro 2016 against Ukraine
Image: Germany's defender Jerome Boateng with an acrobatic clearance against Ukraine

Germany are yet to concede in the tournament and that is largely thanks to Boateng, one half of their solid centre-back pairing. The Germans are obviously an extremely cohesive side nonetheless, but four successive clean sheets is quite some feat.

Yet, defensive steel is not the only quality the Bayern Munich defender boasts. Albeit extremely rarely, the 27 year-old can produce goalscoring quality from distance - as his effort against Slovakia demonstrated.

It has been noted that his countrymen are yet to claim victory over Italy in a major tournament, and with an in-form frontline including Graziano Pelle and Giaccherini, Boateng will have to be at his best to keep Conte's men at bay.

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