Roy Hodgson’s men will take on the Azzurri in Manaus in their first game of the tournament, with their last game in major competition having been the quarter-final defeat to them in EURO 2012 – game in which the veteran playmaker starred for the victors.
Although he is now 35, Pirlo is still considered to be one of the very best passers of the ball in world football, and is a player who can dictate the play from deep if given the time and space.
Scholes took on Pirlo at club level in 2010 and believes that Hodgson must take a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book by using Welbeck in a similar role to that the Scot played Park Ji-Sung to limit the veteran Italian’s influence:
“He’s the world’s greatest playmaker – the complete footballer.” He wrote in his column for Paddy Power.
“Give him time and space and he will destroy you. He’s such a clever player and is so composed. If surrounded he’ll lay it off. If he’s got room he’s devastating.
“Man-marking him was a huge part of our pre-game plan – I played against Pirlo when Milan beat us 3-0 at San Siro in 2007. We didn’t man-mark him. He destroyed us. We learned and it was painful. Park Ji-Sung was the perfect man for Pirlo in 2010 and never gave him a kick [as United beat Milan 7-2 on aggregate].
“For Manaus, we need an English Park Ji-Sung – one England player designated to man-mark him. Looking at the squad, Danny Welbeck could be an option and would be a bold decision, one which gives England a creative outlet and saddles Pirlo with defensive work.”