Budweiser Man of the Match: Andrea PIRLO (ITA)
Andrea Pirlo was a pivotal presence for Italy throughout their Germany 2006 campaign, and he saved one of his best performances for the biggest match of all, earning Budweiser Man of the Match honours for his display in Italy's penalty shoot-out victory over France in the Final.
Pirlo, who was also recognised as the outstanding player in Italy's semi-final win against Germany, combined with fellow AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso to frustrate France's Zinedine Zidane and Frank Ribery, severely limiting their ability to create chances for centre-forward Thierry Henry, who was restricted to just two shots in 106 minutes.
And just as he did against Germany, Pirlo also added the attacking dimension that Italy needed with Francesco Totti smothered by France's own defensive midfield pairing. Pirlo took virtually all of the set-pieces for the Azzurri, including the magnificent outswinging corner that Marco Materazzi headed home in the 19th minute to equalise Zidane's seventh-minute penalty.
And then with the eyes of the world focused on him, Pirlo stepped up to convert the first spot-kick for Italy, setting them on the path to their 5-3 shoot-out win. "Pirlo offered great performances throughout the tournament," said FIFA Technical Study Group member Jozef Venglos. "He moved very well, he provided the assist on the goal, he scored the first penalty, and he showed some great moves."