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Five Aside

Pirlo: Italian football suffering from lack of quality

Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo has blamed his country's disappointing World Cup performance on a lack of quality and insisted the Azzurri must "start playing football" if they are to challenge for major honours again at Euro 2012.

Pirlo was out injured for the majority of Italy's disastrous campaign in South Africa, making just a fleeting appearance in the final group game against Slovakia, a 3-2 defeat that saw Marcello Lippi's side exit the competition.

It was an embarassing display at the finals by the then-reigning champions and Pirlo believes that the Azzurri must dramatically improve as they prepare to take on Estonia in their first Euro 2012 qualifier, new coach Cesare Prandelli's first game in charge.

"We need to start playing football," he said. "We have to learn how to play with the ball on the ground and make quick exchanges of play.

"Italian football's problem is that we all have less quality: the players, the fans and the stadiums."


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