Euro 2012: Germany's Lahm says Italy stronger than England
Germany captain Philipp Lahm says Italy are "a bit stronger" than their Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents England.
England and Italy meet in the quarter-final on Sunday, with Germany lying in wait for the winner.
"Italy are a bit stronger, cleverer and tactically well-schooled and they are harder to beat," said Lahm.
"England have their class and they have changed their game a little to be more defensive now and it is not so easy to face either of them."
Germany would start favourites against either side in the semi-final after winning all three of their Euro 2012 group games and beating Greece 4-2 in the quarter-finals.
Germany at Euro 2012
- Group B games
- Germany 1-0 Portugal
- Germany 2-1 Netherlands
- Germany 2-1 Denmark
- Germany 4-2 Greece
"I am looking forward to a classic," added Lahm. "One thing is for sure, we are going to have to work hard to get through and we cannot presume we have won.
"But our overall aim is to win this tournament."
Germany's last competitive meeting against England ended with a convincing 4-1 win in the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup.
But their last game in a major tournament against Italy ended in a 2-0 defeat in the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup, which the Azzurri went on to win.
"Of course we think of those - they were our last important games against them," said Lahm.
"Sadly we lost to Italy, but I think we were not as far then as we are now.
"Against England, we played a very good game a few years ago and I am happy to look back at that.
"These games are in our minds when we think of these opponents.
"We know them both and they are difficult opponents, but I am sure they are not happy to face us."
Despite Germany's impressive form at Euro 2012, Lahm still believes holders and 2010 World Cup winners Spain are the favourites after they cruised to victory over France.
"They are totally proving their quality," he said. "They are the team to beat.
"You see the way they played [against France] - that was impressive. France had practically no chance, above all in the first half. I am not sure if they even had the ball for more than two seconds."