England manager Roy Hodgson is confident that his side can contain Italian midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo when the two sides face each other in the World Cup.
The Juventus midfielder produced a memorable performance when these two sides faced each other in the 2012 European Championship as Italy knocked out England at the Quarter-Final stage. Pirlo produced magical Panenka chip during the penalties and controlled the midfield during the whole duration of the match.
As Roy Hodgson and his men prepare to face Italy in their opening game of the World Cup on Saturday, the former Liverpool manager’s prime concern is to contain with Andrea Pirlo in the Italian midfield. Hodgson is aware that the 35-year midfielder holds the key for their opponent and Paul Scholes suggested few days back, he must be contained.
The England manager already has a plan in place and has urged his side to put on an energetic display. Tactically the Three Lions are likely to man-mark the former AC Milan star, although it will be a mistake to think that Pirlo is the only threat the Italians possess.
“How are we going to stop Pirlo? What we’re going to do first of all is we’re going to play better against Italy this time than we did in Euro 2012.
“Of course, against a tiring team and a team that was playing with Pirlo, he had a very, very good game because he’s a very, very good player.
“What are we going to do this time against Pirlo? First, we’ll play with more energy because we’ll have more energy because it will be the first game in the tournament. We’ll be even more compact than we were in that game.” – The England manager said.
Roy Hodgson is also aware that his side must show more endeavour in the attacking half of the pitch in order to put the Italians on the back foot.
“We’re going to make certain also that Italy have a lot more concern themselves with our attacking play, because one of the problems we had in that game is that we weren’t functioning well as an attacking unit. So Italy had too much of the ball and we were doing too much defending.
“One of our plans this time is to make certain we do a lot more attacking and that Italy find themselves wondering what they’re going to do about people like Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney.” – He added.
England’s defence will also come under pressure from former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and Hodgson is aware of his abilities as a footballer.
“It interests me when I’m preparing the team and we’re discussing his qualities and what problems we might face with him and with him in the Italian team.
“Really, Balotelli as a player and as a person, it’s purely a question to put to the Italy coach. How do you get on with him? How do you use him? I saw him on TV and the occasional game for Man City.
“I’ve not worked with him. I’m not in a position to make any judgement, other than to say the obvious one: He’s a very dangerous player with great qualities, and whenever he plays he will pose problems the opposition will have to deal with.” – He said in an interview.