Germany v Italy

Pirlo: Germany a difficult test

Italy playmaker wary of semi-final opponents' attacking threat

ESPN staff

Andrea Pirlo was part of the Italy side that beat Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-finals

Andrea Pirlo is expecting Italy to face a significantly tougher test in their Euro 2012 semi-final against Germany than England provided in the last eight.

Juventus star Pirlo was the stand-out player in the Azzurri's quarter-final victory, capping a virtuoso display with a cheekily converted penalty in the shootout, but he does not anticipate he and his team-mates will see quite so much of the ball in Warsaw this Thursday. 

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

"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."

Pirlo, who was part of the Italy team that beat Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-finals, has been tipped by some as a potential contender for the FIFA Ballon d'Or in the wake of an imperious season for Juventus and an impressive Euro 2012.

However, the 33-year-old does not believe he stands much chance of winning the award for the first time in his career, saying: "It is impossible for me to win the Ballon d'Or because Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo score 70 goals a year."

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