EURO 2012: Pirlo expects Germany to give Italy a stern test in Euro semi-final

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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 tomorrow.

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.

European Championship holders Spain play Portugal in the first semi-final tonight in Donetsk. Kick off 7.45pm.