Ferdinand: This England player causes Pirlo problems - not Cahill, not Gerrard

Andrea Pirlo Italy

Ex Manchester United player says old team-mate can ask Italy midfielder questions at FIFA World Cup - mores than Chelsea & Liverpool stars?

The role of Italy general Andrea Pirlo is not just about play-making from deep, acting as his team - or nation's - regista, but also about defensive responsibility - he attempted 43 tackles and 39 interceptions from 29 Serie A starts last season alone, for instance.

It is that latter point that could perhaps be exploited, as alluded to by former England international Rio Ferdinand, who explained that, while Pirlo is peerless on the grandest of stages, at the grand age of 35, he does not have the pace to match certain England players.

For some, a defender like Chelsea centre back Gary Cahill could be seen as the ideal option to move up whenever Pirlo encroaches into England's defensive zone, while others could tip Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard as the man able to nullify any Pirlo approach.

Ferdinand, though, would nominate his former team-mate at Manchester United - forward Danny Welbeck - as the man to stay close to the Italian pitch legend.

"Welbeck to play on and around Pirlo isn't just about defending," Ferdinand wrote on his social media network on Twitter. "When we win the ball high I'd like to see Pirlo try and catch him; [that will be] difficult."

Reflecting on a previous encounter with the Juventus midfielder, he added in the Daily Mail recently: "England will [need to] stop Pirlo’s magic. How? I recall one Champions League game against Milan for Manchester United at San Siro in early 2010 when Sir Alex Ferguson put Ji-sung Park on Pirlo. He man-marked him out of the game.

"Pirlo would typically make up to 90 of his incisive passes per match. That night he was limited to 32. We joked later that Park did such a superb job that when Pirlo woke up the next morning, Ji-sung was at the foot of his bed!"

England tackle Italy in Manaus, Brazil on Saturday, June 14.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch