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Andrea Pirlo, the guiding force in the Juventus revival over the past 18 months, said sorry after faltering when it mattered most in the 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Pirlo gave the ball away to Bastian Schweinsteiger as he tried to play his way out of defense inside the first 30 seconds of their Champions League quartefinal first leg and Austrian youngster David Alaba fired home.
Pirlo, the deep-lying playmaker who usually sprays passes effortlessly around the pitch and seems almost impossible to dispossess, was a shadow of his normal self.
The 33-year-old, whose beard gives him a resemblance to actor Chuck Norris, was repeatedly outmuscled and gave arguably his shakiest performance in almost two seasons at Serie A champion and league leader Juventus.
"I'm sorry I made so many mistakes but we still have a return match," the former AC Milan man told Italian media. "We will analyze this defeat and draw some conclusions.
"Bayern have shown today that they are a stronger team than us."
Bayern never let Italy World Cup winner Pirlo settle, even after Toni Kroos, the player originally designated to mark him, was taken off injured in the 16th minute.
Pirlo nearly set up a second goal Bayern with a poor pass which resulted in Andrea Barzagli being dispossessed and the ball finding its way to the dangerous Franck Ribery.
"We made our game prevail as planned and we took Pirlo out of the game, we succeeded in doing that," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes. "I must pay my team a big compliment for that."
(China Daily 04/04/2013 page12)