Tuesday June 26 2012
Pirlo: 'I took Hart down a peg'

Andrea Pirlo feels Germany are afraid of Italy, took that penalty to “bring Joe Hart down a peg” and “won’t be upset” if he never wins the Ballon d’Or.

The Italy midfielder was already a hero within the peninsula, but won over many new admirers with his performance and cheeky chipped spot-kick in the Euro 2012 quarter-final victory.

“I saw Hart was practically down on the ground already, so I tried it. I didn’t think about what would happen if I’d got it wrong, it was just a spontaneous thing,” explained Pirlo in today’s Press conference.

“Hart looked very confident in himself, so I thought we had to bring him down a peg or two.

“The nicest thing about all this was when my football colleagues complimented me for the penalty. That is always pleasing.

“Gigi Buffon reassured us all before the penalties and made us feel calm. He was proved right.

“I do not dedicate it to Juventus President Andrea Agnelli, nor Milan’s Adriano Galliani, but simply to all Italians. I have no desire for revenge on anybody.”

Pirlo’s Man of the Match performance against England and his crucial role in taking Juve to the Scudetto have led some to suggest he’ll be in line for the Ballon d’Or.

“As long as Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are around, it’s impossible to win it. They are a step above the rest and score 60 goals per season, so I won’t be upset to miss out.”

The Azzurri now go into Thursday’s semi-final against tournament favourites Germany, who have been able to rest for two extra days.

“Germany are strong in every area and proved that with the results they’ve had so far in both qualifying and the competition.

“I expect a great game, they are very strong, but we know that we can beat them. We studied them today and will do so again over the next two days.

“What can we do better on Thursday? Score a goal,” smiled Pirlo, who was in the Italy side that beat Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-final.

“Compared to England, Germany are a team who come out and play football. Mesut Ozil will be the fulcrum of their midfield and he’ll be close to me on the pitch.

“We came here to win and Germany are afraid of us, as they know we can cause them problems. There is the same hunger as in 2006 and Germany play the same way, with more fans behind them, but we are on a par with Spain in terms of our midfield.

“I am almost at the end of my career, so it’s pleasing to experience the emotions of these games and that adrenaline rush you don’t often enjoy.”