Tuesday June 17 2014
'We have some quality individuals'

Paolo Maldini has praised the Italy squad for this summer’s World Cup, picking out several individuals for commendation.

The Azzurri beat England in their Group D opener last Saturday, overcoming the Three Lions 2-1 thanks to goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli.

And the Milan legend has admitted that several players have already showed their quality on the world stage.

“Every Coach tries to raise the level of the group, but a lot depends on the individual quality you can call upon,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Sometimes you can underestimate players though – I think some people did that with Candreva. He was superb on Saturday.

“We’ve got some quality players, especially in midfield. I think it was right to try and play a formation that fitted around the likes of Verratti and De Rossi.

“And then there’s Pirlo. Everything passes through Pirlo – and I mean everything.

“He can play long he can play short, he can do just about everything with a football. Pirlo is crucial for us. He’s the spine of this team.

“Darmian? I don’t know the lad that well, but he played with confidence that only comes with youth.

“Balotelli? I hope he’s found peace of mind, because if he has he can be an amazing player for us at this World Cup.”