Euro 2012: Why Andrea Pirlo Was Italy's Man of the Match Against England
For years, Pirlo has been widely regarded as one of the best midfielders and there's a reason for that.
He uses the ball incredibly well, he looks comfortable on the ball, rarely loses possession and I'd venture to say that he's the best dead-ball specialist in the world.
If you look at the haul of medals he's won, it's clear to see how good he is.
During his ten-year spell with AC Milan, he won two Serie A titles, two Champions' Leagues, two European Super Cups, one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.
That's pretty much every trophy he could've won at club level.
After leaving Milan last summer for Juventus, he was an integral part of their side that won the Italian league last year.
At the international level, he won the World Cup in 2006 and was named as "Man of the Match" in the final.
When you take into account that he was surrounded by, and played against, world-class players like Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro, it shows you just how good a player he is.
Against England, Pirlo led his team by example and let's be honest, the current Italian squad is nowhere near as good as it has been in recent years.
As one of the most experienced members of the squad, and a former World Cup winner, Pirlo's knowledge is invaluable to head coach Cesare Prandelli.
Last night was a prime example of just how good he is.
Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker are two excellent midfielders in their own right, but last night they couldn't affect the game for England because they were too busy chasing Pirlo's shadow.
Aside from a 25-30 minute spell in the first-half, Italy dominated possession and created more chances than England did.
Who do you suppose was pulling the strings? That's right, it was Andrea Pirlo.
When it came down to it, in a high-pressure moment last night, Italy called on Andrea Pirlo.
With one cheeky dink of his right foot, he answered their call and sent them through to the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Some might call it arrogance, but I think it took a lot of bottle for him to take that penalty last night.
The way he scored the spot-kick was an indication of a man who was head and shoulders above everyone else on that pitch last night.
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