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Jun 11, 2014

Pirlo: Teamwork key to Italy success

Italy train in the rain that may stand them in good stead for their World Cup opener against England in Manaus on Saturday.

Much of Italy's success for the past decade owes to the creativity and determination of Andrea Pirlo.

The veteran midfielder insisted on Wednesday, however, that the main strength of the Azzurri is their reliance on team play and not on any single individual.

"This national team is not Pirlo-dependent," the 35-year-old said. "In order to go all the way you need everyone's contribution.

"Our aim should be to win and go until the end. We have a very competitive team and we will give our all to win this tournament. I never compete to take part but to finish first."

History shows that Pirlo may have been Italy's most important player in Italy's run to World Cup glory in 2006. Pirlo was Italy's man of the match three times, including in the final against France.

In that tournament, Pirlo set up more goals than any other player in the competition.

Andrea Pirlo says teamwork will be key for Italy to win their fifth World Cup.

England coach Roy Hodgson, whose side will face Italy on Saturday in Manaus in their opening match at the World Cup, singled out the veteran playmaker as the Azzurri's most dangerous player, while Pirlo says England are a dangerous first opponent.

At Euro 2012 quarter-final, Italy needed penalties to defeat England while months later, the Azzurri lost 2-1 when the teams met in an international friendly in Switzerland.

"We know England is a good team, that has improved a lot," Pirlo said. "They have new young players, who are fast. We will have to be careful. However, we know how to face them.

"Italy have always played great games against England and hence, we will have our chances."

Pirlo also talked about the changes in Italy's formation this summer.

"We have tried this new formation, with a holding midfielder and two playmakers free to create," he said. "We like it and we think it can give us good results.

"My role is not the one I had when I was younger, it's different. It's more a rotation of midfielders but having more movement to create spaces."

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