Ahead of England’s opening match at the World Cup 2014, a lot of emphasis has been put on stopping Italy’s playmaker Andrea Pirlo. The 34-year-old has starting point of many attacks over the years. He continues to be the heartbeat of the team. In the past, teams that have prevented Pirlo from play his natural game have often gained a huge advantage. This was the case with Manchester United against AC Milan several years ago. As a result, it has been heavily speculated that England manager Roy Hodgson will come out with a unique plan in order to stop Pirlo.
Hodgson has accepted that the Juventus midfielder is one of the greats of the game, but that does not mean that the English will be fully concentrating on him in the opening match. Instead, he plans to take a look at the entire team because it is full of very good players capable of changing the game in a single moment. The likes of Mario Balotelli and Daniele De Rossi are regarded as great players themselves. Hodgson is someone who knows Pirlo very well after having dealt with him during his time at Inter Milan.
The England manager also confirmed that captain Steven Gerrard is likely to be fit for the opening match against Italy.
“Andrea is someone I know very well and he is obviously a top, top class player. I think it’s quite normal that people focus on him but there are a lot of other players in that Italy team that are worthy of contention too. We are focussing on Italy the team and the quality they have. We are not getting hung up on one player because Prandelli will tell you that his team are not totally dependent on Pirlo,” said the England manager about the former Milan man.