• Euro 2012

Schweinsteiger fit for Italy clash

ESPN staff
June 26, 2012
Bastian Schweinsteiger took a full part in training on Monday © Getty Images

Bastian Schweinsteiger is back to full fitness and ready to start the semi-final against Italy, Germany coach Joachim Low has said.

Schweinsteiger had been suffering a niggling ankle problem but was able to take a full part in training on Monday. Although he played in the 4-2 quarter-final win against Greece on Friday, Low said the midfielder had fallen short of his usual standards.

Giving his squad a clean bill of health, Low said: "There are only 100% fit players. No player will run out if he is only operating at 80 or 90% capacity. All players are fit - I assume Schweinsteiger will play.

"Schweinsteiger had problems, but it's not as if these were hindering him. Against Greece, he was poor - but he realises that himself. Against Italy, that won't happen."

Low said he would not be singling out Andrea Pirlo, who produced an outstanding performance as Italy beat England on penalties, for special treatment.

Pirlo pulled the strings as Cesare Prandelli's team dominated much of the match against their defensive opponents, but Low explained: "That [man-marking Pirlo] would make no sense. The Italians have a very different team from 2010 and excellent progress behind them.

"They have good strengths, a lot of quality. But we also know where their weaknesses lie, where they have their problems. We have to bring our own game, not focus so much on the opponents. If we manage to do that, then we have a good chance."

Earlier on Tuesday, Mesut Ozil had stressed how important Schweinsteiger was to Germany's hopes of winning the tournament, describing him as a "world-class player and a leader of the team."

"He has had injuries in the past, but he is in a good way now," Ozil said. "You saw against the Netherlands how important he is. I hope he is able to be fit as he is such an important player for us."

Meanwhile, Miroslav Klose has said he expects to line up against the Italians despite competition from three-goal striker Mario Gomez - the Euro 2012 joint-top scorer.

Klose started the game against Greece as Low shuffled his attacking options, and rewarded his coach's faith by getting on the scoresheet.

"I am assuming that I will play," he said. "That's what I am preparing for. But we are lucky to have two top strikers. We'll wait and see which one the coach will pick."

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