Andrea Pirlo was exceptional as both a ball-winner and a playmaker in the centre of the Italian midfield during the Azzurri's 2-0 semi-final win over Germany, and it was his threaded pass that led to the goal that broke the deadlock in the 119th minute.
Pirlo was key to Italy's ability to maintain a clear advantage in possession, as he was instrumental in managing the Italians' passing movements through midfield and at breaking up Germany's attempts to counterattack. What is more, with the match seemingly destined for a penalty shoot-out a situation in which Germany have never lost in the FIFA World Cup it was the AC Milan player's vision and touch that created the game's first goal.
First, his powerful shot from outside the penalty area forced Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehman to concede a corner. Then when Alessandro Del Piero's cross was cleared as far as Pirlo, he opted not to shoot from the edge of the area and instead took a touch to find a passing lane through which he threaded a ball for Fabio Grosso, who beat Lehmann with a shot inside the far post.
"Pirlo is the Budweiser Man of the Match because he was the playmaker and during the entire game he played superbly in front of the defence," said FIFA Technical Study Group member Gyorgy Mezey. "He always did the right things at the right moments, and he also was very smart in the last assist for Fabio Grosso."