Andrea Pirlo outlined his free kick tactics, Juventus preparing for Benfica, Italy’s World Cup and his retirement plans.
The midfielder sat down with La Gazzetta dello Sport for an in-depth interview, starting with the Azzurri going to the World Cup in Brazil.
“I am ready to do my duty, but we all are. We’ve got what it takes to go far in that competition,” said Pirlo.
“I think people are worrying too much. After Euro 2012 we were the protagonists of an excellent Confederations Cup and also impressed in the World Cup qualifying group. It’s true, we struggled in friendlies, but there was the need to take a breather and settle new players in.”
Italy will face England, Costa Rica and Uruguay in their World Cup group.
“We know it’s a difficult group, but I really like the atmosphere in Brazil. I was treated very well and still remember with pride the welcome I was given at the Maracanà.
“Do we depend on Mario Balotelli? Partly yes, but we are all important to the cause. Mario is old enough now, so he doesn’t need advice any more. He just needs to focus on finding his form in the summer, concentrate on the football and leave the rest alone.”
Pirlo scored another sensational free kick in the Europa League victory over Lyon, which sent them through to the semi-final against Benfica.
“I have many different options for free kicks. I can curl the ball over the wall, under or around it, depending on how I strike the ball. What counts is that it goes into the net. I am getting closer to Sinisa Mihajlovic’s record, but we have different styles.
“Benfica did well to reach the semi-final, have had a great season and are technically gifted. I feel sorry for them, but...
“We had a clear objective when we went out of the Champions League and that was to reach the Final in Turin. The tournament is not a distraction, as we want it as much as the Scudetto.”
Pirlo turns 35 next month and has already said he’ll retire from international duty after the World Cup, but he has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet.
“How do I keep in shape? I use in life the same organisation as I do on the field. It might seem banal, but there’s no other recipe for success. I go to bed early and eat well. You have to live the life of an athlete.
“Future? If we are talking about the date of my retirement, then it’s not even going through my mind. I won’t retire as long as I have this strength and this hunger.”