Hodgson identifies former charge as Italy's greatest threat to England

Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson has identified Italy’s prime danger man as Andrea Pirlo - his former charge at Inter.

England open their World Cup Brazil campaign against Italy on June 14 in Manaus.

The Three Lions have also been drawn alongside Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D, who they will face in respective order after taking on the Azzurri.

A great deal of importance has been placed on the curtain raiser by both the Italian and English camps, knowing the result will heavily influence who progresses to the knock out stages.

And England boss Roy Hodgson has been speaking about who he sees as Italy’s greatest threat to his side’s ambitions.

“I know Balotelli from his time playing in England,” the 66-year-old told Sport Mediaset. “Andrea Pirlo I know because I had him at Inter for three months - he has had an incredible career.

“Over the last 10 years, he is the one who has made Italy play.

“We have respect for everyone, but if I have to give one name, I’d say Pirlo.

Hodgson doesn’t only know Pirlo from his time on the bench at San Siro, however.

The Juventus midfielder was tormentor-in-chief when England met Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

His chipped spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out turned the momentum in the Azzurri’s favour to send the Three Lions crashing out of the competition after holding firm for 120 minutes.

Italy went on to reach the final - losing 4-0 to Spain - and Hodgson complimented the job counterpart Cesare Prandelli has done at Coverciano.

“Italy is very strong,” he added. “Prandelli has done a great job in the last four years and the team has grown during his tenure.”

Hodgson warned that England will be looking to reverse their fortunes against La Nazionale this time around, however.

“Perhaps people in Italy see us as defeated before the World Cup starts.

“But the game must be played and we’ll see if we win or lose.

“I don’t think of losing before a game, I always think of winning.”

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