Andrea Pirlo: 'Italy's World Cup campaign could depend on Mario Balotelli'

Italy's Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Czech Republic during their World Cup qualifier on September 10, 2013
© AFP
Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo admits that the Azzurri's bid to win this year's World Cup could depend on the form of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo has claimed that the Azzurri's bid to win this year's World Cup could depend on the form of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

The former Manchester City player was an integral part of Italy's unbeaten qualifying campaign, scoring five goals, and the 23-year-old will be looked upon to help his national team through a tricky group in Brazil featuring Uruguay, England and Costa Rica.

The experienced Juventus midfielder feels that Balotelli's form could be crucial to the Azzurri's success, but warned that the whole squad will have to be at their best.

"We know it's a difficult group, but I really like the atmosphere in Brazil," Pirlo said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Do we depend on Mario Balotelli? Partly yes, but we are all important to the cause. Mario is old enough now, so he doesn't need advice any more.

"He just needs to focus on finding his form in the summer, concentrate on the football and leave the rest alone."

Italy's last World Cup campaign saw them finish bottom of their group after draws against Paraguay and New Zealand and a defeat to Slovakia.

Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks dejected during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Parma FC at San Siro Stadium on March 16, 2014
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