Why England shouldn't focus all their attention on stopping Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo Italy

England appear to be caught up in finding ways to minimise Andrea Pirlo's influence on tonight's game, but Italy have plenty of other danger men.

At the age of 35 Andrea Pirlo is still without a doubt one of the finest players in the world, but if England focus too much attention into keeping the Juventus man busy then this could play right into the hands of Italy, who have plenty of other ways they can hurt England. 

Claudio Marchisio 

Marchisio is Pirlo's midfield comrade at Juventus and although the 28-year-old is not widely renowned for having quite the same passing and creative abilities as his Serie A team-mate, Marchisio must not be left unnoticed by England. The midfielder possesses bags of his own creative abilities and could quite easily hold the keys to unlocking the England defence. With younger legs than Pirlo, Marchisio is also more mobile and can cause problems with his presence in the England box. The Italian chips in with his fair share of goals at club level and must not be allowed the freedom to do so tonight. 

Mario Balotelli  

The striker doesn't require much of an introduction, England fans will remember all too well of the capabilities of the former Mancehster City man. Balotelli has enjoyed an impressive first season back in Serie A scoring 30 goals in 50 games so far in his time at Milan. The 23-year-old is demonstrated the beginnings of a matured footballer and his brute strength and overall confidence could damage England if he is allowed chances. Balotelli has experience playing against most of the English players, and that may give the Italian the upper hand in some one-on-one duels this evening. 

Antonio Cassano 

The 31-year-old only marginally made Cesare Prandelli's final 23-man squad at the expense of the injured Giuseppe Rossi, but the veteran is still likely to play a big part in Italy's plans. Cassano arrives in Brazil on the back of a fine run of form, scoring 12 times in his first season at Parma. This unbelievably will be Cassano's first ever World Cup, but his valuable international experience at past European Championships is likely to mean he gets more playing time than team-mate Ciro Immobile, even though Immobile boasts a better goal return than Cassano last season. The 31-year-old is only likely to feature from the bench this evening, but certainly possesses the ability to make a serious impact on the game. If England allow Cassano chances late on, he could net an all important goal that could damage England. 

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