Much of Italy's success for the past decade owes to the creativity and determination of Andrea Pirlo.

The veteran midfielder insisted on Wednesday, however, that the main strength of Gli Azzurri is their reliance on team play and not on any single individual. "This national team is not Pirlo-dependent," the 35-year-old said. "In order to go all the way you need everyone's contribution.

"Our aim should be to win and go until the end. We have a very competitive team and we will give our all to win this tournament. I never compete to take part but to finish first."

History shows that Pirlo may have been Italy's most important player in Italy's run to FIFA World Cup™ glory in 2006. The midfielder was three times Italy's man of the match, including in the final against France.

In that tournament, Pirlo set up more goals than any other player in the competition. England coach Roy Hodgson, whose side will face Italy on Saturday in Manaus in their opening match at the World Cup, singled out the veteran playmaker as the Italians' most dangerous player.

We will give our all to win this tournament. I never compete to take part but to finish first.

Andrea Pirlo

An area where Pirlo excels is with his free-kicks. "I like to score goals from free-kicks," he said. "I've done it since I was young and I hope to continue to do so."

Pirlo says that England are a dangerous first opponent. In the UEFA 2012 quarter-final, Italy needed penalties to defeat the Three Lions while months later, the Azzurri lost 2-1 when the teams met in an international friendly in Switzerland.

"We know England are a good team, that has improved a lot," Pirlo said. "They have new young players, who are fast. We will have to be careful. However, we know how to face them. Italy has always played great games against England and hence we will have our chances."

Pirlo, meanwhile, talked about the changes in Italy's formation this summer. "We have tried this new formation, with a holding midfielder and two playmakers free to create," he said. "We like it and we think it can give us good results.

"My role is not the one I had when I was younger, it's different. It's more a rotation of midfielders but having more movement to create spaces."

Pirlo can focus firmly on the World Cup after signing a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, which will keep him at Juventus until June 2016. He moved to Juve from AC Milan in 2011 and has been a regular in Antonio Conte's starting XI ever since.

Pirlo has enjoyed another solid campaign with the Turin club, scoring four goals in 29 league appearances to help I Bianconeri clinch their third straight Scudetto. "I'm delighted to have signed a two-year contract extension," he said. "I thank Juve and I hope we can continue to win. I wish I can repeat what I've done in the past two years in the coming years."