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Germany switch to back three to blunt Italy

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany Training - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 1/7/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew and players during training. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany Training - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 1/7/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew and players during training. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Angus MacSwan

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew has opted to play three central defenders as he looks to counter the threat of Italy's striking duo in their Euro 2016 quarter-final on Saturday.

Benedikt Hoewedes has returned to the starting lineup and will join Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, making his 50th international appearance, in a three-man central defensive unit.

Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector have been given a more attacking brief to get forward from wing-back.

Loew, who had a full squad to choose from, has also stuck with his only out-and-out-striker Mario Gomez, sacrificing Julian Draxler and again leaving out Mario Goetze.

Italy coach Antonio Conte has made one change from team that beat Spain 2-0 in the last 16.

As expected, Daniele De Rossi misses out with a thigh injury and, with Thiago Motta suspended, Conte has opted for Stefano Sturaro to complete his midfield.

The tenacious Sturaro, a controversial inclusion in the squad, will be charged with adding bite in the effort to disrupt the world champions' ominous midfield trio.

Mattia De Sciglio and Alessandro Florenzi continue on the flanks, with wideman Antonio Candreva once more missing out after struggling with a hamstring injury.

(Reporting by Angus MacSwan and Ed Dove, editing by Ken Ferris)

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