ITALIAN football pundit Richard Hughes warns that England must take care of the ball to stand any chance of outfoxing his childhood mentor Cesare Prandelli.
Cherries’ recently-retired midfielder, a summariser of Serie A matches for BT Sport, was raised in Milan and spent his formative years under the tutelage of Italy’s current boss at Atalanta.
Hughes, who has agreed in principle a deal to stay at Dean Court as part of Eddie Howe’s backroom staff, said England would have “no surprises” for the Italians when they clash in the Three Lions’ World Cup opener tomorrow (11pm).
In Prandelli, the former Scotland international believes Italy hold a tactical “trump card” and argues that a draw would represent success for Roy Hodgson’s men in Manaus.
Providing an insight into Prandelli’s work, Hughes told the Daily Echo: “I have always raved about him ever since he managed at youth team level.
“He is an outstanding manager who has a fantastic manner about him. He is an articulate, calm person with a good demeanour. You listen when he speaks because what he says is important.
“Tactically, he’s out of this world. I only played under him for a couple of years but he taught me everything I know about the game tactically.
“I played in several positions under him and he was good at teaching people how to develop and play in a cohesive manner, a crucial aspect at international level.
“Individuals come in from different clubs and you have to create a team very quickly and he’s the perfect man for that. His versatility and ability to harness a team from a group of individuals gives Italy every chance in this tournament.”
Hughes, however, does believe England can trouble the Italians with possession, pace and a plan for their main man – Andrea Pirlo.
“You have to have a plan for Pirlo,” added Hughes. “It might be to man mark him, or take advantage of his weaknesses by getting attacking midfielders running off him but you have to do something.
“His offensive abilities on the ball are outstanding. I don’t think enough teams have got to grips with him over the past few years and he allows other players to hurt you.
“You either have to take the game to Italy or counter-attack relentlessly and England didn’t do that in the Euros two years ago, they just sat back and allowed Italy to dictate territorially and in possession.
“I would definitely go with pace across the three attacking midfield positions but England have got to be a lot better at retaining possession to make it work.
“Pace is all well and good if you have the ball and getting in those first two or three passes under pressure is vital to release the counter-attacking opportunities.
“Even in the Honduras friendly, England struggled with that and made hard work of it. That worries me and is why I don’t think this match will necessarily suit them.
“If I were England I would take the draw here and now because it would be a better result for them than Italy.”