Italy were once again inspired by a stylish performance from Andrea Pirlo as the Azzurri overcame Germany 2-1 in an entertaining UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final in Warsaw.
The playmaker looked a class apart as he dictated proceedings against Joachim Löw's side, topping the Castrol EDGE Index for the second successive game with a score of 9.42.
Though he reaped rewards from a block on Mats Hummels' early goal-bound effort, and his 11.94km was second only to Claudio Marchisio in terms of distance covered, much of Pirlo's impressive rating could be attributed to the artistry and efficiency of his passing.
Pirlo outshone his supporting cast, completing 70 of the Azzurri's 407 passes and managing a completion rate of 81%, the highest of Italy's starting XI.
While he instigated countless attacks – including feeding Antonio Cassano, who then assisted Mario Balotelli to head in the opener – Pirlo offered an offensive threat which was less than in previous matches. However, he was rewarded highly for his defensive efforts as one of the Azzurri's main men in terms of possession recovery.
Mesut Özil's role in Germany's attacking play and his well-taken penalty earned him second spot, while Balotelli's double ensured he completed the top three.
Castrol EDGE Index: Germany v Italy
1. Andrea Pirlo (ITA) 9.42
2. Mesut Özil (GER) 9.39
3. Mario Balotelli (ITA) 9.35
4. Mats Hummels (GER) 9.33
5. Gianluigi Buffon (ITA) 8.64
1 – Mario Balotelli is the first Italy player to score three goals at a EURO finals.
2 – The Manchester City FC striker is also the second Azzurri player to score twice in a EURO game (the first was Pierluigi Casiraghi, against Russia, in 1996).
4 – For the fourth time the final of a EURO will be contested by teams who have already played each other earlier in the tournament (following 1988, 1996 and 2004).
5 – Miroslav Klose made his fifth appearance in a semi-final of a major tournament, more than any other player.
8 – Competitive matches Italy are unbeaten in against Germany.
Andrea Pirlo: "We knew we could reach this objective from the beginning. Now we are here, we are here to win – let's hope we will play a great final."
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