Riccardo Montolivo says he is looking forward to facing Germany and insists that he has not been put off taking penalties following his miss in the Euro 2012 shoot-out win over England.
The 27-year-old came in as a replacement for the injured Thiago Motta in the quarter-final and gave an assured display before botching his spot-kick in the shoot-out.
Speaking to reporters, Montolivo said Thursday's semi-final encounter with Germany will be extra special for him as his mother is German and he speaks the language fluently.
"It's going to be a very special game for me," the 27-year-old stated in a press conference ahead of the match.
"My mother is 60 per cent Germany fan and 40 per cent Italy fan.
"I have a few [German] character traits - maybe my coolness, but not while taking penalties!"
The new AC Milan midfielder, who sports a German flag on one of his shinpads, vowed to step forward to take a spot-kick again despite missing against England.
"I felt terrible after missing my penalty, it was really a tough moment but fortunately it ended well - we are lucky to have a goalkeeper like [Gianluigi] Buffon," he said.
“If we went to penalties again then definitely I would go back on to the spot to take one. Only people who never shoot never miss."
Germany's last-four encounter with Cesare Prandelli's men will get under way at 20:45CET in Warsaw's National Stadium.
Italy played 30 official games against Germany that first one was a 3-1 win on 01/01/1923 and last one was a 1-1 draw on 09/02/2011.
Italy record 14 wins, 9 draws and 7 loses versus Germany.
* Italy not lost to Germany in any competition matches .
|30/03/1955||Stuttgart||Germany FR||1:2 (1:2)||Italy|
|18/12/1955||Rome||Italy||2:1 (1:0)||Germany FR|
|31/05/1962||Santiago De Chile||Germany FR||0:0||Italy|
|13/03/1965||Hamburg||Germany FR||1:1 (1:0)||Italy|
|17/06/1970||Mexico City||Italy||4:3 a.e.t. (1:1, 1:0)||Germany FR|
|08/10/1977||Berlin West||Germany FR||2:1 (1:0)||Italy|
|14/06/1978||Buenos Aires||Germany FR||0:0||Italy|
|11/07/1982||Madrid||Italy||3:1 (0:0)||Germany FR|
|22/05/1984||Zurich||Italy||0:1 (0:0)||Germany FR|
|05/02/1986||Avellino||Italy||1:2 (1:1)||Germany FR|
|10/06/1988||DüSseldorf||Germany FR||1:1 (0:0)||Italy|
Having played a pivotal role in helping Juventus clinch the Scudetto in his maiden season at the club, Andrea Pirlo has taken that exceptional form straight into the Euros for Italy, with some superb displays against the likes of Spain, Ireland and England.
A metronomic display full of class helped the Azzurri into the semi-finals at the expense of the Three Lions on Sunday night, a performance capped by a stunning penalty kick that turned the shoot-out in his side's favour in Kiev.
It has led the footballing world to collectively hail the Italian playmaker - and here Goal.com takes a look at what his fellow professionals, both past and present, have had to say about the man in question.
"Yes, for me, Andrea should win the Ballon d'Or. He deserves it. He is the best of them all."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli throws his weight behind the growing admiration for the former AC Milan man.
"Did you see what Pirlo did? Only a genius has this intuition. Andrea is immense and there are no other adjectives to add."
PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti, a former manager of Pirlo's at Milan, is left speechless by the Panenka-style penalty.
"We did all the things one could possibly do from a professional point of view but it still doesn't change the fact that Andrea Pirlo has the incredible confidence at that level of football to do a Panenka chip over the goalkeeper."
England boss Roy Hodgson admitted that all the planning in the world couldn't prevent the penalty.
"If I had to choose a lasting image from the game I'd say Pirlo's penalty. I'd not seen such a crazy shot as that since the days of Francesco Totti."
Italy captain Daniele De Rossi hailed the penalty, referencing Totti's similar strike against Netherlands at Euro 2000.
"Pirlo. Mamma Mia!"
Udinese midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, who is set to join Pirlo next season after agreeing a move to Juventus, brushes up on his Italian while praising the 33-year-old.
"On a pure footballing note Pirlo just put on a pure footballing master class + the penalty was too much."
Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand, left kicking his heels at home by England during the tournament, lauded the masterclass put on by the Italian playmaker.
"Wow. Pirlo is a joke."
Free-agent Michael Owen simply could not believe his eyes.
"What a great penalty from Pirlo – phenomenal."
Barcelona midfielder Xavi, a player that Pirlo is often compared to, was effusive in his praise of the penalty.
"Pirlo is just class."
Spain international Gerard Pique also joined in on the fun.
"A player of another world. It's a player like that who the French team miss"
Former PSG holding man Luis Fernandez, winner of the European Championship with France in 1984, believes Les Bleus are missing a player of Pirlo's quality in the middle of the park at the moment.
"He is simply a world class player, on the top level for years. How he has taken the penalty - that was great class. On Thursday it is not Ozil vs Pirlo, but Germany vs Italy."
Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil was keen to talk up the ability of his opposite number ahead of the two teams' upcoming semi-final clash.
"That was very bold in that situation. When he doesn't score... As a keeper you don't expect such a penalty. That shows how strong his nerves are."
Die Mannschaft goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke hailed the unpredictable nature of the spot-kick.
"But what class!"
Cesc Fabregas applauded the technique and nerves needed to pull of such a penalty given the context of the situation.
"Pirlo's penalty [is the] moment of Euros so far for me - reminded me of Zidane's pen in World Cup . Big players at the big moment produce a moment of class!"
Everton utility man Phil Neville called the Pirlo penalty his highlight of Euro 2012 so far, lauding the player's mental strength.
"Pirlo has unbelievable quality and England could not match him or Italy. Pirlo has been fabulous, he controlled and dictated the game and was absolutely masterful. It was a masterclass in technical ability, and Steven Gerrard spent the night chasing Pirlo around."
Never one to hold back with his opinion, Liverpool legend and Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen complimented Pirlo on his performance against England.
Cesare Prandelli and Carlo Ancelotti have lavished praise upon Andrea Pirlo after his performance for Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-final against England.
Pirlo was at his metronomic best against the Three Lions and after guiding Juventus to the Scudetto while completing the Serie A season undefeated, the two coaches were eager to talk up the 33-year-old's ability.
The current Italy trainer was adamant that despite the record-breaking efforts of both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the past year, it is Pirlo who deserves to be named World Player of the Year.
"Yes, for me, Andrea should win the Ballon d'Or. He deserves it. He is the best of them all," Prandelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I was amazed when I heard his statements after the game: when he said that he shot it like that in an attempt to make things difficult for the English psychologically.
"I would never have thought of it, and that confirms that the true champions go the extra mile for the good of the team."
Such glowing words were echoed by Pirlo's former boss at AC Milan, who ran out of superlatives when describing the midfielder. Ancelotti also added that despite Germany being the best team he has seen in the competition so far, the Azzurri will prove more than a match for Joachim Low's side.
"Did you see what Pirlo did? Only a genius has this intuition. Andrea is immense and there are no other adjectives to add," he said.
"If I were Low I'd be careful, against this Italy it is no laughing matter.
"I think that Germany are the best team I've seen at the Euros, the most complete, but it will be a struggle against us. But then I'm Italian, I'm a fan of the Nazionale.
"I see Germany less favoured than it may seem."
Italy take on Germany in the semi-final at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Thursday evening.
Italy and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was spurred onto glory against England by a unlikely tribute before the game in Kiev.
An artist in his homeland ploughed a field to show show the back of the strikers head.
Dario Gambarini has used tractors to similar effect to create images of Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela among others in the past opted to create Balotelli ahead of the big game.
The 2,700 square metre piece was created in Castagnaro, near the artist’s native Verona.
Rather than show Balotelli’s face, however, Gambarini broke with tradition to portray the Manchester City striker’s trademark Mohawk haircut, with the word ‘Italia’ visible at the top of his shirt.
'I wanted to pay homage to all the Azzuri,’ Gambarini said. ‘But it seemed ideal to reproduce the blonde Mohawk of Balotelli on a field of threshed wheat.'
Balotelli scored the first penalty in Italy's 4-2 shoot-out win over England on Sunday night.
Cesare Prandelli has declared that Italy will take the game to Germany in Thursday's Euro 2012 semi-final showdown in Warsaw, even though he believes his side will be severely handicapped by having had two fewer days of rest ahead of the game.
The Azzurri only booked their place in the last four on Sunday, defeating England on penalties after a 120-minute war of attrition. Die Mannschaft, meanwhile, cruised through courtesy of a 4-2 win over Greece two nights before.
While Prandelli is in a bullish frame of mind, he is in no doubt that fatigue will be a major factor in the latest chapter in his country's epic rivalry with Germany.
"Germany have had two days extra to recover," he told reporters at a press conference on Monday. "This is a big handicap for us.
"Germany are the favourites. We must prepare well in terms of the little details. We also know that we can play our own game.
"We must read Germany's game well and take risks; I prefer to concede on the break than sit back, wait and suffer for 20 minutes.
"A side that can have 35 shots on goal in a match will win nine times out of 10. We also had 68 per cent possession against England, so our style of play is certainly not a defensive one.
"We have a side that is aware of what it’s doing, it’s growing game to game and wants to measure up to the biggest teams.
"The England match showed we had the courage to keep playing the right way and to stick to our methods.
"Germany are athletically strong but if we play well, there are no invincible sides for us. Every team has a weak point and we must exploit it."
That sense of adventure and willingness to attack is seen as very 'un-Italian', given the country's history of defensive excellence.
However, Prandelli believes that the Azzurri's newfound attacking endeavour is merely a reflection of a significant and widespread shift in the way teams are approaching the game.
"The new generation want to see this kind of football and not have teams thinking about the final result from the very first minute," he opined.
"At the moment, the teams that make the difference are those who raise the defensive line and have the courage to play."
When then asked if there had been a tactical revolution, Prandelli replied: "We're still only at the beginning but we have the responsibility to try."
Meanwhile, Prandelli singled out Andrea Pirlo for some special praise, not only because of his inspirational chipped penalty in the shoot-out, but also the way in which he controlled the game almost from start to finish.
"Pirlo is one of best midfielders in world," the former Fiorentina boss enthused. "Others maybe score more but the consistency he has over the course of a match is simply extraordinary."
Italy's eagerly-awaited encounter with Joachim Low's side will get under way at 20:45CET.
Giorgio Chiellini is optimistic that he will be able to make his return from injury in Italy's Euro 2012 semi-final clash with Germany on Thursday.
The Juventus defender missed Sunday's quarter-final against England after suffering a hamstring strain in the Azzurri's final outing in Group C, against Republic of Ireland.
However, Chiellini revealed after watching his team-mates' dramatic penalty shoot-out success in Kiev that he could be fit to face the Germans in Warsaw.
"I feel better," the versatile centre-back told reporters in the mixed zone. "We'll see in the next few days but I hope and I think that I can play on Thursday."
Chiellini is understandably desperate to be available for the game as he knows full well that the Azzurri are going up against a terrific side in Germany.
"It'll be very difficult," he acknowledged. "But then, that's normal. In the semi-finals, all the teams are always very strong.
"But we'll have to prepare well in the next few days. We have seen Germany play and they have now won 15 matches in a row. They are the strongest team in Europe, along with Spain."
However, Chiellini has the utmost faith in Italy, arguing that they have already proven in their group games against La Roja and Croatia that they have what it takes to mix it up with the best the tournament has to offer.
"We have quality," he declared. "We know that Germany are a good team, with good players. But we have been playing very well since the first game [against Spain]. We drew but we played very well. We had some chances.
"I think we have to improve to make the final. But we have played well so far. I have high hopes for us. I think we will play a good game."
Italy's clash with old rivals Germany will get under way in the Polish capital at 20:45CET.
Nothing to say ... let's talk emotions ... let's talk people's images in Italian piazzas ... let's talk about the wild group of Blues players who joined and embraced after the rigor of diamonds ... let's talk about the soul of each of us ... so we made, much remains to be done ... AVANTI ITALIA!
Pride and honor to be your and your goalie.
Thanks to all
Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo believes that his audacious 'Panenka' penalty "put more pressure" on England's players in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final clash.
The Azzurri were losing 2-1 in the penalty shoot-out after Riccardo Montolivo had missed his attempt when Pirlo chipped the ball straight into the middle of the net as England goalkeeper Joe Hart dived to his right.
Ashley Young and Ashley Cole then missed from the spot, allowing Italy to win 4-2 in the shoot-out, and Pirlo hinted that his penalty changed the game.
"Joe Hart was doing some strange movements, so when he dived I decided to take it like that and it went well," the Juventus midfielder told Rai Sport.
"It put a bit of pressure on their takers and in fact Ashley Young missed his penalty after that.
"England did not create any chances during the match. They played for the penalty shoot-out, while we wanted to win.
"We knew we could dominate the match, and all that England did was defend. We used up more energy than we expected, but we were able to win the match."
Pirlo's Juventus team-mate Gianluigi Buffon also commented on the nerve-wracking quarter-final, and admitted that despite Italy's dominance, he was dreading an England victory from 12 yards.
"It is clear that I feared an upset, in the penalty shoot-out you can be lucky and win or unlucky and lose. With regards to the 120 minutes of action, we deserved the victory, we created more chances than them," the goalkeeper pointed out.
"After Montolivo missed his penalty, I only thought that I should save as many as possible, because my team-mates deserved to win the match, and so did I."
For Daniele De Rossi, who was forced off through injury, Pirlo's shoot-out heroics were the highlight of a tense match on Sunday evening.
"Pirlo's penalty? It has been many years since I saw one this beautiful. It reminded me of Totti's penalty against Netherlands in 2000," he said.
Alessandro Diamanti, meanwhile, agreed with Pirlo that his side were more than worthy victors.
"Justice was done, we played better than England. We controlled the match from the first minute," he claimed, adding that the only thing running through his mind in the shoot-out was marking a goal with his goalkeeper.
"I did not think anything while I was taking my penalty, I only thought about scoring and go to Buffon and celebrate with him."
Italy will now take on Germany in their semi-final clash, which will be played on Thursday in Warsaw. Pirlo had the last word as he asserted that, from this point forward, anything was possible.
"At this stage of the tournament we should not rule anything out, that is the reason we are here," he added.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli stated that his side were worthy winners in their Euro 2012 quarter-final clash against England.
The Azzurri were the better side for large periods of the match, but ultimately prevailed thanks to a penalty shoot-out as the scoreline remained 0-0 after 120 minutes of action.
"We played a great game and we deserved to win," Prandelli told Rai Sport. "We did very well against a great side, we had so many chances to score, but we had to wait for the shoot-out.
"We showed a great spirit, we stopped England from scoring on the counter. In the final moments, they went for the long balls.
"Let's now enjoy this victory, then we will think about the match against Germany."
Italy will have two days fewer to rest for the semi-final clash than Germany, and Prandelli admitted that Joachim Low's side are "clearly" favourites for Thursday's contest.