England star wary of Pirlo threat in World Cup opener

Jack Wilshere says that England must stop Andrea Pirlo is they are to give themselves a genuine chance of beating Italy in their World Cup opener on Saturday.

The 35-year-old playmaker is seen as the Azzurri’s main creative force, and despite his age is still considered to be one of the world’s very best passers of the ball.

In EURO 2012 Pirlo played a major role in knocking England out during the quarter-finals, netting a cheeky penalty in the shootout after a 0-0 draw between the sides.

Confidence in the Three Lions camp is rumoured to be high heading into the clash with Italy – which may have a major bearing on who makes it out of Group D – and Wilshere, 22, feels that stopping the silky technician is key:

“We know that he is getting on but we know he has the quality,” he is quoted by BBC Sport.

“There will be times in the game when he gets on the ball and then we just have to narrow in and stop his forward balls.

“He is a great player, the anchor. He picks the ball up, he’s a playmaker. He gets the game started and we saw that a couple of years ago in the Euros. He was great in that game.”

Regardless of his advancing years, Pirlo played 43 games for Juventus last season and helped them win the Serie A title for the third consecutive campaign.