Italy suffer setback as Pirlo ruled out of first two games
Italy’s World Cup preparations have suffered an early setback with the news that influential midfielder Andrea Pirlo will miss their first two matches.
The AC Milan playmaker’s calf strain means that he will be unavailable for the reigning champions’ games against Paraguay and New Zealand.
Ricardo Montolivo is expected to fill in for the 31-year-old Pirlo, and the 14-cap Fiorentina player should be an able deputy.
Paraguay will be a tricky first hurdle for the Italians to clear, and the South Americans are 10/3 to cause an upset by beating the 2006 winners.
Italy are still favoured to win the tie at 10/11 but Pirlo’s absence could unsettle Marcelo Lippi’s side.
With Italy in poor form – they are winless in three matches – and Paraguay entering the game on the back of a 2-0 win against Greece, a win for the Azzurri seems less than certain.
Indeed, with both sides drawing three of their last six matches, a draw is very temptingly priced at 11/5.