Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has praised Andrea Pirlo ahead of their game against Italy on Wednesday.
The Blue Samurai face Cesare Prandelli's team in Recife tomorrow knowing that a loss to the Azzurri would almost certainly put them out of the competition.
And the Wolfsburg midfielder has admitted that will be a tough ask coming up against the Juventus star.
“Pirlo is the brains of the team,” he told a Press conference. “He really is an exceptional player.
“We can't let him play as he'd want to. Against Brazil we were too defensive.
“Italy are a great team – they are organized and solid in defensive.
“But our strategy is to stop Pirlo – only by doing that can we beat the Azzurri.”