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Italy pin hopes on Pirlo to help seal last 16 spot

ITALY hope to be boosted by the return of midfielder Andrea Pirlo for this afternoon’s must-win Group F decider with Slovakia in Johannesburg.

Much like England, the Azzurri suffered disappointing draws in their opening two games and need a victory to guarantee their place in the last 16.

Experienced playmaker Pirlo has been ruled out of the tournament so far with a calf injury, but coach Marcello Lippi is hoping the AC?Milan man will make a timely return.

The Italians have also been boosted by the return to light training of injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, but the experienced stopper is not ready to play.

Similarly, Slovakia hope to welcome back ex-Chelsea midfielder Miroslav Stoch to the side after recovering from a knee injury.

TODAY’S MATCHES
Slovakia v Italy
Johannesburg, ko 3pm, ITV1

Paraguay v New Zealand
Polokwane, ko 3pm, ITV4

Denmark v Japan
Rustenburg, ko 7.30pm, BBC3

Cameroon v Holland
Cape Town, ko 7.30pm, BBC1