Bierhoff says Italy is lagging behind
Germany's general manager Oliver Bierhoff has criticized Italian football ahead of the clash between the two nations next week.
Bierhoff graced the Serie A stage with both Udinese and AC Milan as a player, but he claims the Italian league has fallen light years behind the Bundesliga since he hung up his boots.
"The Squadra Azzurra reflects the crisis in Italian football," he told fussball.de.
"It is no coincidence that the Bundesliga has overtaken Serie A in the five-year rankings for the European cups."
Germany were beaten by Italy in the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup in Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, which is where the two nations will meet again in a friendly fixture next Wednesday, but since then, the respective countries' paths have gone in opposite directions.
Germany were beaten finalists at Euro 2008 and finished third at the 2010 World Cup while Italy were eliminated early on in both competitions.
And Bierhoff says the reason for Italy's demise is obvious.
"You just have to look at the infrastructure," he said.
"Look at the stadia, the equality in the league and the level of the teams.
"German football is simply better right now."
Nevertheless, Bierhoff has warned that Germany's superiority will not necessarily emerge over 90 minutes next Wednesday.
"We are measuring ourselves up against a very good, old rival," he continued.
"After the way we performed at the World Cup in South Africa, the Italians will be highly-motivated to beat us.
"This is a real test for us and a chance to simulate a real competitive situation."