It ensured their trophy drought dating back to Euro ’96 would last at least another two years to the 2014 World Cup should they qualify. Italy striker Mario Balotelli broke German hearts on Thursday with a first-half header and sublime strike as the inexperienced Germans — the youngest of the 16 teams at Euro 2012 — failed to cope with Cesare Prandelli’s Italy.
“The most bitter thing is that this team has so much potential for so much more,” fumed Lahm as the Germans’ 15-match winning streak in competitive games was broken.
“But we weren’t clever enough. “If you don’t show that potential at the right point in time, then you lose a game like that. It is a very, very bitter defeat.
“We made some stupid mistakes and we shouldn’t have conceded the goals like that. “If you find yourselves behind against the Italians, it is very hard to come back.”
Having dropped three of his forwards for last Friday’s 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece, Loew again tinkered with his starting line-up, but this time it back-fired as the Italians ruled the midfield in the first half.
Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski was hauled off at half-time, striker Mario Gomez also made way for 34-year-old veteran Miroslav Klose after the break, while Toni Kroos barely troubled the Italian defence from the right wing.