Pirlo playing deep
Pirlo has been one of the standout players of the tournament and Germany set out to stop him. Toni Krooscame into the side to marshal him, while Bastian Schweinsteiger would also have expected to have done a job on the 34-year-old playmaker. Pirlo instead dropped a lot further back than he has played so far this tournament, spraying passes around and keeping Italy moving. He supplied the pass to set up the first goal and Germany could not find an answer to him.
Pirlo made the difference against Germany tonight
You can tell where Mario Gomez has been playing in this tournament by the hordes of broken defenders scattered around. He ruled the roost in the group stages but came up against two very physical, very aware defenders in Bonucci and Balzaretti. They didnít let him win his headers, turn on the ball or dominate them in any way. Loew hauling him off at half time showed the success of the Italian defenders.
Play swiftly through the midfield
Much of Germanyís success has come via their brilliantly organised and talented midfield. However, Italy entirely negated that by holding onto the ball deep, playing two strikers, unlike many teams (ahem Spain ahem) then quickly feeding the ball through to Cassano or Balotelli, giving them a run at the defence.
Use paceGermany have quality all over the pitch, but what they donít have is pace. Italy exploited that superbly by switching the ball, using width and using the pace of Balotelli to scare the defence. Both goals came from Mario reacting much quicker than the German defence.
Germany have been used to dominating games from the outset, so it was important that Italy started strongly. They did so by getting hold of the ball early, unsettling the German attackers and starting the unpredictable Mario Balotelli. The Germans were ruffled, the Italians grew into the match, scored a relatively early goal and caused the Germans to attack from behind, leaving gaps.
Make Germany change their system
Nobody is quite sure why Joachim Loew started Tony Kroos over Thomas Mueller, possibly in a bid to negate Pirlo, but it was a bad call. The German midfield had worked seamlessly throughout the tournament, but Loewís decision to start the Bayern Munich man caused imbalance in the German midfield, leading to gaps that Pirlo, ironically, exploited. So basically, you need a world class player in your ranks that even the Germans are scared of. Sorry England, this point may not apply.