Germany entered the tournament boasting arguably the best midfield and attacking lineup. As it has turned out, their defence have deserved the same amount of plaudits, if not more for their solid display at the back - a great factor in the team's successful run in the competition so far.
Joachim Low's team have not conceded a single goal on their path to the quarter-finals and the defence have looked like they are getting stronger with each game.
So much of the focus has been on Germany's attacking prowess with talented players such as Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira in their ranks, that very little attention was given to the defence.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Article continues below
Having missed the opening game of the group stages with an injury, Mats Hummels was back to his familiar position at centre-half alongside the formidable Jerome Boateng. The pair were Germany's preferred centre-backs during their 2014 World Cup winning run in Brazil and Low clearly sees them as his first choice for the rest of the competition.
During the team's opening 2-0 victory against Ukraine, the back four had a makeshift look to it, with the new Bayern Munich signing and teen sensation Joshua Kimmich both missing.
Article continues below
Shkodran Mustafi was given a chance at centre-back, the Valencia defender and rewarded Low by opening the scoring for the Germans with a header.
After a shaky and uncertain start to the game, the defence looked far more organised in the second half, seeing the match off in convincing fashion.
The defence were especially crucial during subsequent games against Poland and Northern Ireland. Mustafi was sacrificed as the dependable Hummels was restored to deal will Robert Lewandowski and co. The Bayern ace was kept rather quite by the Germans, with the defence starting to take shape.
Poland's resilient defence restricted the current world champions to a 0-0 draw, earning both sides a crucial point.
Kimmich returned to face Northern Ireland, and the 21-year-old's versatility to play in midfield, at centre-back and full-back make him an extremely useful player for club and country
The same defence of Jonas Hector, Boateng, Hummels and Kimmich started against a tricky Slovakian side in the round of 16 - a game in which the youngest member of the German's back four shone through.
Kimmich showed off his attacking threat in addition to his resolute defensive display at right-back to once again underline the young German's versatility.
Cologne's Hector has started all of Germany's games during the competition, having taken on the left-back position after the retirement of former captain Phillip Lahm. The 26-year-old has looked confident on the left side of defence and is expected to retain his place against Italy.
Germany's greatest asset, however, has been sweeper keeper Manuel Neuer. The giant shot-stopper provides an immense amount of stability, confidence and security at the back, with his keen reading of the game, great ball control, and ability to pull off some simply incredible saves.
Die Mannschaft are set to face Antonio Conte's Italy side in the next round, after cruising past Slovakia in the round of 16 in a 3-0 win. The game against the Azzurri is expected to be the side's biggest test so far. However, their flawless defensive displays in the tournament will give them plenty of confidence they will progress even further.
Italian forwards Graziano Pelle and Eder will face the mammoth task of not only going up against the tried and trusted pair of Hummels and Boateng but also the intimidating German keeper.
In what is expected to be the most competitive game of the tournament so far, the meeting between the previous two world champions is set to be a mouth-watering encounter.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms