Sammer: Stopping Pirlo key to win
Bayern Munich struck a blow for Germany by blunting Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo on Tuesday night, according to general manager Matthias Sammer.
The unified German national team have a chequered history with Italy at international level, failing to beat them in the semi-finals of the World Cup or Euro 2012. In fact, in all seven games played between the sides in their history since 1996, Germany have never won.
However, Bundesliga leaders eased past Serie A's finest in the Champions League on Tuesday as Bayern won 2-0. Ahead of the clash, German tabloid Bild had called Pirlo the "German football enemy No. 1" after his impact at the recent Euros, but Sammer was delighted how his side pressed and managed to keep him quiet.
"It was important to attack up front, since all players went along with it," he told Bild after the game. "The distances between our lines were short, you could see how strong we are in one-on-one situations and that was what destroyed us a bit during the 2012 semi-final against Italy. It was the same strategy for Juve in the big plays - but we defended better, including taking Pirlo out."
When Sammer's thoughts were put to him, Germany boss Joachim Low simply replied: "You cannot compare the semi-final and the Champions League game. If only because different players were involved. Take the Italy internationals (Mario) Balotelli or (Antonio) Cassano who, for instance, don't play for Juve. And Pirlo had an off day. But still Bayern Munich found good solutions."