Ramos says ‘reference point’ Pirlo must be stopped if Spain wants to win Euro 2012

London: Spain’s influential defender Sergio Ramos has praised veteran Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo, branding him as the reference point, and believes the reigning European champions need to stop the Juventus star to claim their third major tournament on the trot.

Spain faced Italy in their first game, and Pirlo was the man who provided the assist to
Antonio Di Natale, who struck for Italy in a 1-1 draw.

Ramos emulated Pirlo in dinking his spot kick into the net during Spain’s penalty shootout win over Portugal in the Euro Cup semifinal, and when asked if he would fancy taking penalty kick again if required in the final, the Real Madrid star said he would prefer his team to win well before the kicks.

“Quite honestly, no. I don``t fancy penalties. I want to win but to do that we have to go about things the right way,” a newspaper quoted Ramos, as saying.

“It could be beneficial for us to have already played them but they may change strategy. They are very quick and dangerous on the break and Pirlo is unique. With a single pass he can open you up and leave a man one on one. He``s the player that makes the difference. We know Italy are a great opponent, quick and good in possession,” he added.

“Pirlo is their reference point. He dominates the game and controls the match. In that sense it``s similar to the way that Xavi [Hernández] controls the game. But it would be a mistake not to evaluate the rest of the other players,” he said.