Italy are not my bogey team, says Germany's Kroos
By Karolos Grohmann
EVIAN, France (Reuters) - German players have no interest in thinking about past losing battles against Italy as they prepare to face them in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Saturday, with midfielder Toni Kroos sounding confident they will finally emerge victorious.
The Germans have lost all knockout tournament matches against Italy stretching back to 1970 but playmaker Kroos was in no mood to discuss them.
"Why should I have an Italy trauma? How often was I there?" he snapped, when asked about Germany's dismal track record against the Italians. "I don't have a problem talking about Italy. I just don't have any Italy trauma."
The Germans lost the 1982 World Cup final, two World Cup semi-finals (1970, 2006) and the Euro 2012 last four encounter to the Italians and have also drawn all four group matches they have played at tournaments against them.
"So we never won. You can't change that. But Saturday's game is what is important. We will look to be prepared perfectly and then go out and beat them. I am very optimistic," Kroos said.
The Germans beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly international in March but team manager Oliver Bierhoff said that result mattered little for Saturday.
"That 4-1 win is absolutely not an issue. We have to erase that," said Bierhoff, who scored Germany's golden goal to secure the last of their three European titles 20 years to the day.
"The Italians are organised, united and very strong in these matches," Bierhoff said. "You can see they have plays they know inside out and have studied repeatedly. It is a disciplined and concentrated team. The toughest one we have faced so far."
Bierhoff said it was now time for the German team to stop talking about his winning goal from 1996 and write their own winning history at this tournament.
"I just drove here with (attacking midfielder) Leroy Sane, who was born in January 1996. I think it is time for this team to write a new story," he said.
Bierhoff said the Germans were used to playing on the big stage and would have no problem rising to the occasion against Italy, despite the losing past.
"The players are on fire but I do not think that anyone will lose it," he said. "These players play constantly such high level games. They are determined and are motivated but they will not be over-nervous or cramped up."
"There is no fear, but joy for this game. These games make the heart beat faster."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann. Editing by Adrian Warner.)