The Three Lions meet Italy on June 14, two years after being knocked out of Euro 2012 by the same side.
Hodgson claimed that he knows the likes of Mario Balotelli and although Italy have many good players, Pirlo is the one who makes Italy tick.
"Do we fear [Balotelli]? I know him because he played in England," Hodgson told Mediaset.
"We have respect for everyone but if I have to give a name, I say Pirlo. In the last 10 years, he has made Italy play.
"I had him three months at Inter and he has had an incredible career."
England play warm-up matches against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras before their World Cup game against Italy.