Euro 2012: Germany are afraid of Italy, says Pirlo

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Andrea Pirlo
Krakow, Jun 27: Italy play-maker Andrea Pirlo said the marvelous penalty scored against England was 'purely spur of moment' but he feels Germany are afraid of Italy ahead of their Euro 2012 semi-final clash on Thursday.

[Germany vs Italy Preview]

Expecting a 'beautiful' open semi-final, Pirlo believes, with history on their side, the Azzurri can get the better of Joachim Lowe's men. But unlike England, the Juventus midfielder was wary of Germany's attacking threat.

"Germany are afraid of Italy. Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England. This is the only way we can play. But unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence," Pirlo told reporters in a press conference.

With exceptional display in midfield against England, Pirlo single-handedly controlled the game with simple passes, switching play and even goal-attempts. But the moment which sparked Italy's fight back in the penalty shootout came after Pirlo's Panenka-style chipped penalty.

"I didn't practise my penalty," he said. "It was spontaneous. I don't think about missing in those situations. What happened was purely spur of the moment. When I saw the goalkeeper [Joe Hart] going to the ground I decided to strike the ball in that way, also to bring him down a peg or two," the 33-year old was quoted as saying in UEFA.com.

However, Pirlo feels England's tactics helped them achieve a good result in penalty shoot-out and compared the game to Champions League final where Chelsea opted to sit back and defend.

"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.

Germany's play-maker Mesut Ozil, who has been their most effective player and the biggest threat to any opposition, could be a potential problem for Pirlo.

"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 said.

Veteran Pirlo, who played an important role during the 2006 World Cup semi-final win against Germany, could be playing in his last major tournament. The former AC Milan man insisted his side are here to secure their first Euro title in 44 years.

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