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Podolski: We're ready to halt Italian hoodoo

LUKAS Podolski insists it is time for Germany to end their miserable record against Italy in tournament football.

Germany will go into tomorrow's Euro 2012 semi-final having never beaten Italy in seven previous tournament matches.

The last of those was in the final four of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when the Italians scored twice in the dying minutes of extra-time on their way to winning the tournament.

Joachim Low's men will start as favourites tomorrow, though, having won their four games in Poland and Ukraine so far.

"It's the time to break that series," Podolski said in an interview with Bild newspaper.

"Since 2006 we have improved enormously. Today we have a whole different philosophy and a different team. The Italians also know that.

"One thing is clear -- we want to be in the final, so we have to beat the Italians. Therefore, this will hopefully be the end for Italy in this European Championship."

Podolski was left out of the starting XI for the 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece, with the 21-year-old Andre Schurle preferred, but the Arsenal new boy's experience is expected to get him the nod against Italy.

Also set to play is midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, whom coach Low revealed is fully fit and ready to start the game. The Bayern Munich star has been struggling with an ankle knock.