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Pirlo: Germany are afraid of Italy

The Azzurri star believes his side are as good as reigning champions Spain, while admitting he was pleased to receive praise from his peers following his ‘Panenka’ penalty

Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo is confident his side can overcome Germany, claiming that Joachim Low’s men are scared of facing them.

The Juventus star put in a peerless performance against England during their quarter-final clash on Sunday, which the Azzurri went on to win 4-2 on penalties.

The 33-year-old feels that his side’s display in Kiev proved that they can overcome their semi-final opponents, and showed that they are at the same level as reigning European champions Spain.

"They are afraid of us. They know that we can create some problems. There is the same desire as 2006. We are at the level of Spain," Pirlo told reporters at a press conference.

"Germany are a strong team in all departments and they have shown that with the results they have obtained up until now in the Euros.

"I expect a beautiful game. They are a very strong team, but we know we can beat them. We have studied them today and we'll do so again in these next two days."

When asked how the Azzurri could improve following their victory over the Three Lions, Pirlo added: We can score a goal. Compared to England, Germany are a team that plays [football], and [Mesut] Ozil, who I'll find beside me, will be the fulcrum. But we have come here to win."

Pirlo capped off his indomitable display on Sunday by scoring a sublime penalty in the shoot-out, chipping the ball down the centre of Joe Hart’s goal in the style of Czech Republic legend Antonin Panenka.

The World Cup winner insisted that the spot kick was purely spontaneous, and that he was seeking to unsettle the confidence of England’s No.1.

"I didn't practice taking a penalty like that, it just came to me naturally, in the moment,” he continued.

“I never think about how I would feel if I was to miss them, I just hit them.

"Against England, I saw that Hart was very sure of himself. I thought that he had to come down off his high horse."

The former AC Milan star was inundated with praise following the penalty, with players and fans alike expressing their admiration for his nerve and ability.

However, Pirlo insisted it was the praise of his contemporaries which pleased him the most, adding that he dedicated the kick to all of his countrymen.

“The most beautiful were those of my peers, who play football like me. That's always pleasing.

"I dedicate it to neither [Juventus president Andrea] Agnelli nor [AC Milan CEO Adriano] Galliani, but to all Italians."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli earlier stated his belief that Pirlo deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or for his performances for club and country.

Fabio Cannavaro lifted the coveted prize after guiding the Azzurri to World Cup glory in 2006, but Pirlo believes he will not be able to emulate his compatriot while Cristiano Ronaldo and current holder Lionel Messi are playing.

"These two are a cut above everyone else; they score 60 goals a season,” he said.

"As long as there is Messi and Ronaldo, it's impossible for me to win it.”

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