UPDATE: Italy 2-1 Germany, Final Score
Mario Balotelli has stolen the show in the Euro 2012 semifinals, tearing apart Germany en route to a halftime brace. Germany's previously solid defense has looked terrible in the first half against Italy, as the combination of Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Riccardo Montolivo has taken them apart on two occasions en route to a 2-0 lead.
Germany surprisingly started the match with Toni Kroos in midfield, as they switched to a 4-3-3 to attempt to match Italy in the center. It's helped them control the game for the most part, though they haven't turned their positive play into goals. They generated the game's first big chance in the 6th minute, with Mats Hummels redirecting a Kroos corner on target, but Andrea Pirlo blocked his shot off the line.
Gianluigi Buffon was tested twice in quick succession in the 13th minute. Sami Khedira set up a chance with a great weaving run and pass out wide for Jerome Boateng, who swung a hard cross into the box. Buffon mishandled, but his defense was in good position to clear the ball for a corner. Following the corner, Kroos hit a good long shot on target, but Buffon was able to punch away.
It looked like the Germans were going to find the game's first goal, but things changed quickly in the 20th minute. Cassano provided a brilliant assist for Balotelli for the game's opening goal, turning away from two defenders before playing a cross into the box. Holger Badstuber couldn't stay with Balotelli, who rose up and powered a header into the back of the net.
He struck again 16 minutes later with a spectacular goal, scored off of a long ball. Germany's defense was caught completely off guard by Montolivo's pass over the top, and Balotelli timed his run perfectly to stay onside before running clear of everyone. Philipp Lahm and Mats Hummels didn't look to be on the same page at all, as they failed to hold their line, then didn't pick up Balotelli running by them onto the ball. He held off the defenders who were attempting to recover and hit a powerful shot by Manuel Neuer, doubling Germany's lead.
Besides a couple of terrible lapses in defense, Germany haven't played too poorly so far, but the first half was nothing short of a disaster for them. Joachim Löw will have to consider some halftime changes, both in tactics and personnel.
We have live coverage of the match in our Germany vs. Italy, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.