Ray Wilkins believes that the collective strength of the Italian side could cause England a headache ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash.
The 55 year old played in Milan during his football career and understands the Italian philosophy of focusing on their defensive skills. Wilkins made 84 appearances for England during his international career and thinks the current crop of players have to be wary of the Italian mix of youth and experience, particularly with Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi marshalling the midfield and backline at this present time.
Wilkins said: “I think their strengths are not only defence, but as a collective team. Italian football is being pulled through the mud a bit at the moment and when that happens, the Italians seem to get an inbuilt strength which allows them to come out fighting and put on a good performance to prove that Italian football isn’t in a decline, despite what many people may think.”
England will have to break down ‘a lot of players behind the ball’ against Cesare Prandelli’s side and have to look out for some quality up front, particularly Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli. Wilkins believes that the maverick forward is ‘a fantastic addition to the team’, despite some of his antics, but Balotelli is not guaranteed a place against England after a lacklustre group stage.
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