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12:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
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3:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
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Scholes: Pirlo can destroy England

Andrea Pirlo will "destroy" England if Roy Hodgson does not deploy someone to man-mark the Italy star at the World Cup, according to Paul Scholes.

- Thorne: England a different beast under Hodgson
- Brewin: Mixed fortunes for Three Lions
- Payne: Square peg in a round hole

The former Manchester United player believes the Juventus midfielder will pose the biggest threat to the Three Lions when they take on the Azzurri in their Group D opener in Manaus on June 14.

Scholes thinks Hodgson missed a trick by not fielding a player to stifle "the world's greatest playmaker" at Euro 2012, and the former England international warns the coach cannot afford to make the same mistake against the 35-year-old.

"Pirlo is the complete footballer. Give him time and space and he will destroy you,'' Scholes wrote on his blog for Paddy Power.

"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. Even though England's Euro 2012 game against Italy finished 0-0, we paid nowhere near enough attention to him.

"Pirlo is not renowned for his athleticism, and he's 35 now, but that day he ran 11.58 kilometres, more than any England player. He also had more passes [131] than England's four starting midfielders.

"Roy Hodgson seems to have underestimated him in 2012, which surprised me given Alex Ferguson tactics previously to stifle Pirlo. We cannot make the mistakes of 2012 again.''

Scholes remembers how United boss Sir Alex Ferguson used Park Ji-sung to muzzle Pirlo against AC Milan in the Champions League three years after watching the midfielder tear the Red Devils apart in the same competition, and he believes former United team-mate Danny Welbeck is the right man for the job.

"Park Ji-sung was the perfect man for Pirlo in 2010 and never gave him a kick [in an 7-2 aggregate victory],'' Scholes continued. "For Manaus, we need an 'English Park Ji-sung' -- one England player designated to man-mark him.

"Looking at the squad, Danny Welbeck -- a good defender who can nick the ball well -- could be an option and would be a bold decision, one which gives England a creative outlet, and saddles Pirlo with defensive work.''

Scholes doesn't think England are good enough to beat Cesare Prandelli's men, but is convinced the Three Lions can get out of their group -- although he has doubts over Glen Johnson's defensive ability.

"I think the best we can hope for is a draw against Italy if we manage the heat, and we can beat Uruguay and Costa Rica,'' the 39-year-old said.

"At times Peru still looked like they could get in and score, especially down England's right where we looked vulnerable.

"When you see a team like Peru exposing it, imagine what [Uruguay's Luis] Suarez or [Edinson] Cavani might do, or other world class players in the later stages?

"James Milner or Jordan Henderson could be asked to give Glen Johnson extra cover down the right -- when Johnson goes forward it leaves spaces and Gary Cahill will be exposed. It's got me worried.''


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