Pirlo blast as Azzurri face shock finals blow
GARETH SOUTHGATE has revealed that England will follow Germany’s model to become successful on the world stage once more.
The national tema boss claims the key to being winners is to stick with young players after they have been identified for the future.
And Germany’s World Cup-winning boss, Joachim Low, believes England are on the right lines after what he saw from a young Three Lions side in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Wembley.
Low admitted: “It was a real test. Since 2014, England have improved a lot. They have a lot of young, dynamic players.”
An encouraged Southgate said: “The reason I was given this job was that I have an understanding of what is coming through.
“We’ve looked at what Germany have done over a period of time and want to establish a pathway for our young players.
“If we do that, the technical type of player that is coming through our system now and the athletic profile we have got could be really exciting.
“I don’t think it is aping Germany but our job is to analyse why teams from other countries are being successful and what our system looks like. We would be foolish not to see the signs of Spain and Germany being successful following success at youth level – and sticking with some continuity with the way they play and the people involved.
“I enjoyed watching us play against Germany and I haven’t enjoyed watching us play in all our games.
“But away in Germany, against Spain and now Germany at home I’ve enjoyed the performance.”
Southgate was delighted with the debuts of playmaker Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 21, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, 23, and defender Joe Gomez, 20.
He said: “The likes of Ruben, Gomez when he came on and Jordan have shown really good qualities.
Harry Winks is the same. We had to get the balance through qualification for the World Cup, then we could start to look at some of these guys. “It’s not all going to happen before next summer and some of them might not be ready for that but there are exciting young English players coming through.
“I will pick the players that are playing well and who we believe can play at the very highest level. The biggest stage comes with pressures and a huge challenge. “But if they play with the ball like they did against Germany, they will enjoy it.
“What I like is one moment we are talking about Harry Kane or Dele Alli, then there is Marcus Rashford and now Ruben. We are not just hanging our hat on one player.” England now face another test against international football’s most successful country, Brazil, at Wembley on Tuesday.
And Southgate warned: “The Germany game will have taken a lot out of them, so Tuesday will be a much harder test.
“We’ll have to think about who is ready. But whatever happens these two games will have been a brilliant experience for us.” LEGEND Andrea Pirlo has joined the critics in slamming Italy after their defeat by Sweden on Friday.
The 1-0 loss left the four-time champions on the brink of missing out on the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.
The Azzurri’s last failure to qualify for the finals was in
1958 – when the tournament was held in Sweden.
And they will have to win by two clear goals in the return leg tomorrow in Milan’s San Siro Stadium, to avoid what head of the Italian Federation Carlo Tavecchio has dubbed the ‘Apocalypse’.
But their toothless performance in Stockholm on Friday – the latest in a series of lacklustre displays by Gian Piero Ventura’s side – has done nothing to reassure their supporters that they are up to the task.
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport described their display in Sweden as, ‘poor and confused’.
And Tuttosport said, ‘enough of excuses, now we have to avoid an historic embarrassment’.
Pirlo, 38, added: “Italy looked like a scared team that was just playing for a nil-nil draw. In Europe, that is not enough.”
The former Milan and Juventus ace, who confirmed his retirement on Monday, also had little sympathy for Ventura’s complaints about the referee.
Pirlo – capped 116 times for his country – said: “It’s a red herring. Playing in Europe is not like in Italy, where you get a free-kick for even the slightest contact.
“In these matches you need to be above all that and give
100 per cent.
“In these matches you see the real players. It will be tough for Ventura to find the right words to say to the group.
“There will be two very intense days, full of pressure and the coach must have in mind the line-up that he is going to field.”
Pirlo added it was no good hoping that home advantage would help sway the tie Italy’s way.
“The San Siro will make its presence felt but I’ve never seen a goal scored from the stands,” he said.
X-Rays showed Leonardo Bonucci fractured his nose in Friday’s first leg after a clash with Ola Toivonen but he is likely to still play tomorrow, even if it means wearing a mask to protect his face.
Italy (0) v Sweden (1) Tomorrow, 7.45pm,
Sky Sports Main Event
HITTING OUT: Andrea Pirlo