Pirlo magic inspires Italy
28 Jun, Euro 2012 (semi-final): Germany 1, Italy 2 (Warsaw)
Well, I for one, didn’t see this coming, although I said in my preview that if Mario Balotelli came to the show then there could be an upset on the cards.
Balotelli, at times, was unplayable, but there really were heroes all over the pitch for Italy. Gianluigi Buffon, their goalkeeper, was up to anything the Germans threw at him. The whole back-four was typically Italian and impossible to break down. Andrea Pirlo, once again, was outstanding and he was ably assisted by Daniele De Rossi in completely dominating the midfield that is usually Germany’s strongest point.
For me, the biggest thing which surprised me was how, especially in the first half, Italy dominated the speed of the game. Usually, you see Germany stamping their authority early on and setting a very fast pace but, last night, Italy dictated this and played at a slower pace, allowing Pirlo to once again run the show from the heart of midfield.
Italy’s style was never more apparent than for Balotelli’s second goal. He plays on the shoulder of the slowest centre half, as he did against England, and the long ball came and he finished with aplomb. If this was an English team, it would be seen as route-one football, but because it’s the Italians it’s seen as tactical genius.
You concede one to the Italians, it will be hard … but two, you might as well forget it. After the first goal, Italy dropped deeper, let Germany put balls in from far out and then broke in devastating fashion and really should of scored more. Germany had no answer to the vision of Pirlo and Daniele de Rossi and the speed of Balotelli.
Against Italy, you have to dictate the play to enable you to get after Pirlo. Too many times, Pirlo was able to pick the ball from his two centre backs and use his wand to play balls left, right and centre. I thought the Germans would have the energy to snuff him out but they couldn’t and that’s all credit to him. The Italy team is moulded around Pirlo and rightly so but this tournament is the making of Balotelli and he will give Spain all sorts of problems in the final in Kiev.
For Germany, they are a young team who will only get better as they get more experience. For Italy, the most unlikely success could lie just around the corner. My mouth waters at the prospect of Pirlo, De Rossi, Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso contesting the midfield battle on Sunday. Definitely a game for midfield purists.
Match rating (out of five): ***