Saturday May 10 2014
Pirlo: 'Italy ready for World Cup'

Andrea Pirlo is confident Italy “are ready for the World Cup,” and Mario Balotelli “will be important, just like the others.”

The Juventus midfielder spoke to Gazzetta TV about the upcoming tournament in Brazil, which will likely be his last for the Azzurri.

“The team grew well, had a good Confederations Cup and comfortable qualification, so I think we are ready for the important adventure that is the World Cup.

“It is going to be a tough group, but we have everything it takes to get through the round.

“My favourites for the trophy are Brazil, as they are the hosts, Spain, Germany and Argentina, but there are many contenders.”

Italy will face England, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Group D next month.

Pirlo was also asked whether Balotelli will be the decisive figure in Italy’s tournament and if he had any advice for the Milan striker.

“No, I have no suggestions, as he is big enough to take care of himself. The important thing is that he reaches the tournament in good shape, then he’ll be important to the squad, just like the others.”

Pirlo has become an icon of Italian football all over the world and was greeted with excitement by the crowd at a recent friendly in Spain.

“It is pleasing to be known abroad, especially by children, as that means I’ve done some good work over the years. It also happened in Brazil at the Maracanà.

“I still want to play football and I still have fun, so as long as I have that hunger I’ll continue to play.”

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