Pirlo wary of Germany threat

  • Last Updated: June 26 2012, 19:25 BST

Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo expects Germany to offer a far greater threat than England when the two old rivals square up in the Euro 2012 semi-final on Thursday.

Andrea Pirlo: Germany will attack more than England

After his devastating performance in Kiev, and subsequent cheeky penalty, Pirlo is clearly the man Germany must watch.

However, he doesn't expect to be offered the same kind of space England gave him in the Olympic Stadium, from where he dictated the game.

Indeed, Pirlo feels the entire contest will be different - because Germany will be trying to attack.

"Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England," he said.

"This is the only way we can play. But unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.

"England played a very prudent and careful way.

"They were sitting back all the match, like Chelsea did in the Champions League final.

"They tried to keep that same shape.

"For them going to the penalty shoot-out was a good result."

Hodgson would bristle at that, although he has conceded injuries to midfield duo Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard compromised his intentions to push further forward.

Yet Pirlo's assessment cannot be disputed as it merely acknowledges the statistics, with the unanimous view being that England were fortunate to cling on for penalties.

As they are not very good at them, it means, as happens every two years at this stage of a competition, the English media turned up en masse to invade the space others routinely inhabit.

Since England last reached the semi-final of a major competition, Italy have done so on three occasions, for Germany it is now five.

For both, it has brought an attitude and confidence which England simply do not possess.

Take that now famous penalty, which Pirlo chipped past Joe Hart at a point when Italy were trailing in the shoot-out after two spot-kicks each.

Roy Hodgson put it down to confidence.

As Pirlo revealed this afternoon, it was more than that. A mental blow was being struck as well.

"It was really relevant to the match and our win," said Pirlo.

"This (penalty) changed the course of the match.

"Hart seemed to be very confident in himself and I needed to do something to beat him.

"Penalties are a very personal thing and it seemed to be a psychological blow."

Pirlo now has his sights on Germany, a team Italy have never lost to in a knockout game at a major tournament.

Should they succeed, surely it will put him in the running for the prestigious Ballon D'Or, awarded every season to the world's best player.

Fabio Cannavaro was the last Italian to win it, in 2006, after skippering his country to their fourth World Cup triumph.

Pirlo played in that game, claiming the official man-of-the-match prize.

More recently, the 33-year-old was a central figure in Juventus' 'Invincibles' Serie A triumph this term, his first season at the club following the end of a 10-year stint at AC Milan.

But he still doesn't expect to be crowned best player in the world, just as he doesn't anticipate being afforded the room England granted him on Sunday night.

"It is impossible for me to win the Ballon D'Or because Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo score 70 goals a year," he said.

"There have been many games in the past when I've had as much possession as against England.

"In football it happens.

"The difference is against Germany, whereas Wayne Rooney stayed further up I expect Mesut Ozil to be a great threat in and around the areas where I am playing, even though he will not necessarily do a man-marking job on me."