Scholes: England must shackle 'world's greatest playmaker' Pirlo

The Manchester United legend recalls Park Ji-Sung's effective marking of the Italy star in the Champions League in 2010 and sees Danny Welbeck as a useful option for such a role.
Former England star Paul Scholes warns that the Three Lions must put pressure on Andrea Pirlo in their World Cup opener against Italy.

Hailing the Juventus midfielder as "the world's greatest playmaker", the Manchester United legend feels that Roy Hodgson's side must learn from its mistakes in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012, when the Azzurri progressed on penalties.

Scholes sees Danny Welbeck as a good candidate to start the game in Manaus in order to make life difficult for Cesare Prandelli's key man.

Writing for the Paddy Power Blog, the 39-year-old said of Pirlo: "He's the world's greatest playmaker – the complete footballer.

"Give him time and space and he will destroy you. He's such a clever player and is so composed. If surrounded he'll lay it off. If he's got room he's devastating.

"Even though England's Euro 2012 game against Italy finished 0-0, we paid nowhere near enough attention to him. Roy Hodgson seems to have underestimated him, which surprised me given Alex Ferguson's tactics against Pirlo previously.

"In 2010, before United played AC Milan in the Champions League, Sir Alex gave very specific instructions on how to take care of Pirlo.

"Man marking him was a huge part of our pre-game plan. I played against Pirlo when Milan beat us 3-0 at San Siro in 2007. We didn't man mark him. He destroyed us. We learned and it was painful. Park Ji-Sung was the perfect man for Pirlo in 2010 and never gave him a kick [as United beat Milan 7-2 on aggregate].

"For Manaus, we need an English Park Ji-Sung - one England player designated to man mark him. Looking at the squad, Danny Welbeck (a good defender who can nick the ball well) could be an option and would be a bold decision, one which gives England a creative outlet and saddles Pirlo with defensive work."

Being vexed by Park in 2010 left a mark on Pirlo, who wrote in his 2013 autobiography that Ferguson's tactic caused him to lose respect for the Scottish great.

"Even Sir Alex Ferguson, the purple-nosed manager who turned Manchester United into a fearsome battleship, couldn't resist the temptation," fumed the Italy international.

"He's essentially a man without blemish but he ruined that purity just for a moment when it came to me. A fleeting shabbiness came over the legend that night.

"The midfielder must have been the first nuclear-powered South Korean in history. Even though he was already a famous player in his own right, he consented to being used as a guard dog, willfully limiting his own potential."