Andrea Pirlo: ‘Italy can win the World Cup’

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Italy may be long shots to win the 2014 World Cup but don’t tell that to Andrea Pirlo, who is convinced the Azzurri can win this summer’s tournament.

“We can win the World Cup,” Pirlo told reporters on Wednesday.

“I always play to win and I won’t be satisfied by just getting out of the group stage or into the quarter-finals. This Italy team has everything it need to go all the way.”

Pirlo would know. It was his cool penalty that helped Italy out-duel France (5-3) in the 2006 World Cup final shootout. That victory secured the Italians fourth World Cup after capturing titles in 1934, 1938 and 1982.

To earn a fifth world title, Italy must advance through an extremely difficult Group D containing England, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Cesar Prandelli’s side open their campaign on Saturday in Manaus when they take on England.

The last time the Italians faced England was in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 where a clean-shaven Pirlo sent a luscious panenka penalty past an over-eager Joe Hart to help claim shootout victory after a goalless draw.

Even with that in his back pocket the level-headed Pirlo knows that England are a much improved side. “England have improved a lot, they have rejuvenated their squad with young players who can cover a lot of ground. We have a very different style of play but we have a good record against them,” he said.

In the past 35 years, England and Italy have played seven competitive fixtures with Italy winning five times, England winning once and the two sides drawing twice (with Italy winning one of those matches in penalties in the 2010 Euro quarter-final).

Following Saturday’s match Italy face Costa Rica on Friday, June 20th in Recife and Uruguay on Tuesday, June 24th in Natal.


MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Robbie Keane
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Los Angeles Galaxy became the second team in the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. A terrible mistake from Seattle defender Zach Scott led to an easy goal for Robbie Keane, and it looked like that would be the winner until deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, Chad Barrett got his knee on a corner kick to save a draw for Seattle, although the point was enough for LA. The Galaxy join FC Dallas as the two Western Conference teams headed to the postseason.

[ RELATED: Who will take over as Liverpool manager? ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Robbie Keane capitalizes on Seattle’s mistake — Zach Scott misplayed a ball across the Sounders’ back line, as Robbie Keane intercepted the pass and finished one of the easiest goals he’s going to score. A true striker’s goal, Keane doesn’t miss ones like this.

64′ — Steven Gerrard denied by the woodwork — Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 right after the hour mark, but Steven Gerrard was just inches off. Gerrard rose up to meet a corner kick from Juninho, but his header took a deflection and hit the crossbar before being cleared out of the box by Seattle.

90’+3′ — Chad Barrett finds a late, late equalizer — Just when it looked like LA was going to leave Seattle with a win, Chad Barrett stole a point for the Sounders. Marco Pappa whipped in a corner kick to the near post, which was flicked on by Brad Evans. Barrett surged into the box and got a knee on the ball as the match ended in a draw.

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Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Goalscorers: Keane (36′), Barrett (90’+3′)

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)