NEWS
Thursday June 28 2012
Italy player ratings v Germany

The Azzurri are in the Euro 2012 final after Mario Balotelli bashed a brilliant double past the tournament favourites in what was possibly the greatest event involving both Italy and Germany since the Dr Oetker pizza...

Italy player ratings v Germany

Gigi Buffon: 7

What's this...a Gigi Buffon error? His wandering at set pieces made you want to tear your hairpins out early on, but redeemed himself with marvellous saves from Sami Khedira and Marco Reus long rangers. Acrobatic.

Federico Balzaretti: 7.5

Defenders celebrating blocks like goals? Normally an odious practise, but I think we can let Balzaretti off with it. Supposedly one of those fullbacks who only knows how to attack, but made vital interventions and justified Cesare Prandelli's decision to field him in an unfamiliar role. And no, it wasn't a penalty. Assured.

Andrea Barzagli: 7

The scourge of ratings writers, Barzagli can coast through 90 minutes without doing one thing demanding of your attention. But that doesn't mean he's not a mighty fine defender. Note who was standing in Khedira's way when the Germans seemed to have found a way through early in the second half – Barzagli. Reliable.

Leonardo Bonucci: 7.5

The very fact Giorgio Chiellini returned to the side at left back was a ringing endorsement of Bonucci. The 25-year-old went on to make a perfectly judged tackle on Miroslav Klose and - showing unbelievable cool – backheel the ball out of danger in the midst of a late siege. Ice cold.

Giorgio Chiellini: 6.5

One or two sloppy moments but a solid showing on his return to fitness, good going forward and played a part in the opening goal. Strong.

Claudio Marchisio: 7

Failed to square to Antonio Di Natale in the 75th minute because “I could barely see any more I was so tired,” which sort of says it all. Marchisio worked incredibly hard and proved surprisingly adept at clearing German corners with his head. Needs to work on that fringe though. Busy.

Andrea Pirlo: 8

On Sunday it was supposed to be Wayne Rooney, tonight it was meant to be Mesut Ozil, but it turns out nobody is capable of cramping Pirlo's style. Manoeuvred between obstacles and out of tight spaces with ease, showing great spatial awareness. Will make a fine driving instructor one day. Sumptuous.

Daniele De Rossi: 7

Flicked a sweet backheel into Pirlo's path early on, but that was the last we saw of elegant Daniele, as combative Daniele took over from there on in. And what a game he had. Again. Formidable.

Riccardo Montolivo: 7

Wasted a great chance in the first 20 minutes but grew into the game against his mother's homeland and set up Balotelli's second with the sort of lofted pass Pirlo would be proud of. Mature.

Antonio Cassano: 8

Looked much sharper than he did against England and set up Balotelli's first with “a fantastic assist, the kind only Antonio can provide,” to quote Mario himself. Replaced by Alessandro Diamanti when he ran out of puff, we should be grateful Prandelli didn't make that change from the start, as he had contemplating doing. Fantastic.

Mario Balotelli: 9

Wow. Opened the scoring with an emphatic header then - when presented with a carbon copy of the chance he blew against England - walloped the ball into the top corner. After all the time spent discussing his haircut and zany off field behaviour what a relief, and what a thrill, to see him do what he does best – and be an absolutely amazing footballer. As clichéd it sounds, the boy came of age tonight. Phenomenon.

Alessandro Diamanti: 6.5

Always lively and energetic, he created a chance for Marchisio just seconds after stepping onto the field, but the Bologna playmaker's enthusiasm can sometimes get the better of him. Excitable.

Thiago Motta: 5

Brought on to shore up the midfield with 25 minutes to play and put in his usual tidy, low key shift. Nondescript.

Antonio Di Natale: 5

Christmas came early when Balotelli went down with cramp, but Di Natale wasted several presentable chances and had great difficulty simply staying on his feet. Slippery.

Ratings by: Scott Fleming

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

FOOTBALL ITALIA RELATED NEWS

TODAY'S FRONT PAGES