In an age where individuality in football is on the decline, a footballer like Andrea Pirlo has to be recognised. Elegant, classy and so unique, the midfielder’s contract at Juventus is up next summer, and a move to newly-formed New York City has been largely speculated this week. He may well have already played in his last ever European game, and he needs the send off fit for a legend.
We need to celebrate players like Pirlo, and remember them. He is a one of a kind, a figurehead of football in Europe. Having had one of the most decorated careers in the world, he needs to be celebrated, treasured, and used to shape the future generation of superstars.
When you actually think about it, Pirlo hasn’t been playing anywhere near his best over the last few years. Just 20 appearances in Serie A this term, his part in the Old Lady’s double winning season has largely been from behind the scenes. It could well have been a treble winning season if they had manage to overcome Barcelona in the Champions League final, but the Italians fell just short, defeated by one of the greatest sporting teams of all time.
His career has been glittered with success, he’s deservedly achieved a trophy cabinet fit for a champion and having achieved as much as he has, Andrea Pirlo has to go down as an Italian great.
He looked destined for great things when he captained the Italian U21’s to success in 2000, winning the Championship in Slovakia. He won player of the tournament and the golden boot award, prompting a 17 Million Euro transfer to AC Milan from the Blue and Black side of Milan, Inter, the year after. It was here where he hit the prime of his career, making over 300 appearances for the Diavolo and winning an astronomical amount of trophies with the Black and Red’s.
His biggest ever achievement, though, came in 2006 with Italy, as he lifted the World Cup, for the first and last time. He was midway through his career at Milan and followed with a Champions League the next year, Pirlo was starting to become a hero in Italian culture. A Serie A title in what proved to be his swansong season in 2010/11 came and Pirlo moved to fellow Italian’s Juventus on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Four consecutive titles followed with Juve, meaning that Andrea Pirlo has been on the winning side of the title for the last five years, including what was an astonishing unbeaten season in 2011/12. This season with the Turin side, Pirlo enjoyed a fourth consecutive Serie A, another Coppa Italia, and a European campaign to be proud of.
Coupled with his six Serie A’s, he has obtained two Coppa Italia’s, 3 Supercoppa Italia’s, two Champions Leagues, 2 Super Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup. Not too shabby.
If there was ever a player to typify the Italian game, it would be him. A tactical genius, sitting in midfield and breaking up and distributing play, Pirlo isn’t the fastest or most powerful of players. In fact, that is what is so admirable about him. What he lacks in physical attributes, he makes up for with his vision, and his passing ability. To have that spectacle of the bearded midfield maestro, spreading play from left to right, in the famous Black and White of Juventus, is just so beautiful, so romantic.
Pirlo has built his career so high out of his leadership, pride in performance, and his individuality. There is no one like Pirlo in the world, he is a true one off. His autobiography details of this individuality, no more so than when he talks of the day of the World Cup Final. ‘I Spent the afternoon of July 6th 2006 sleeping and playing Playstation. In the evening, I went out and won the World Cup.’ He is coolness personified, you get that feeling that he looks no different when drinking wine and eating pizza back in Italy than when he is sitting in midfield with his head on a swivel, trying to detect where his next pass is going to come.
Whether we will continue to see Pirlo playing at the Juventus Stadium or not, remains to be seen, but we may well see a central midfield partnership of Pirlo and Lampard in the Big Apple, a duo that ten years ago, would have been the midfield of dreams for any top side.
We might never see someone like Pirlo again, the maverick midfielder will hold the face of a generation. He has provided the spine of Italian football, leading the national team to a World Cup, and imposing himself as an ever-present figure in domestic football. If he is to leave Juventus, then it is a farewell for an icon in Italy, a hero that has to be appreciated for an astonishing career.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Juventus: Three talking points from Wembley
Tottenham bowed out of Europe against an experienced Juventus side.
Tottenham Hotspur crashed out of the Champions League after Juventus produced an inspired fightback to progress to the quarter-finals. The in-form Son Heung-min had put Spurs 3-2 ahead on aggregate shortly before the interval, but two goals in three second-half minutes changed the complexion of the tie.
First, Gonzalo Higuain stabbed home the equaliser before Paulo Dybala completed the comeback with a delicate finish. Harry Kane hit the post in the dying moments, but Spurs’ exit at the hands of last season’s runners-up was confirmed as they failed to score a second goal. Here are three talking points from Wembley Stadium..
Max Allegri outfoxes his Tottenham counterpart
So poor were Juventus in the first half that they were fortunate to be only one goal behind on the night and still in the tie. There was no indication of what was to come, as Max Allegri’s side transformed the match in the second period. At the final whistle, the Juve boss headed straight down the tunnel instead of venturing on to the pitch to celebrate with his players. But it was his tactical switch that paved the way for their victory.
With an hour on the clock, on came Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner, who injected much-needed pace and guile. The visitors changed formation and suddenly they were getting in between the lines, with Dybala becoming much more effective. Within minutes, Juve were 2-1 ahead and in their element. Once in front, they managed the game brilliantly and didn’t look like conceding. Mauricio Pochettino, who could only stand and watch it all unfold, had been outwitted by the master.
Future looks bright despite heartbreaking exit
Disappointment may be the overriding emotion for all involved at Tottenham right now, but once the dust has settled they should look back at their Champions League adventure with pride. For this was the season they arrived as a major force on the European stage. Victories over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in a group they topped were huge fillips and evidence of their continued progress under Pochettino.
Spurs were unlucky to be drawn against a club of Juventus’ pedigree in the last 16 and it was the Italians’ knowhow that paid dividends in the heat of the battle. The hosts looked a little naive, but the experience will benefit them in the future. Tottenham are odds-on to finish in the top four and thereby qualify for the Champions League again next season. Should Pochettino be given the funds to invest in his squad this summer, the club’s fans can look forward to more nights under the spotlight.
In-form Son strikes again for Spurs
The South Korean, who was given the nod ahead of Erik Lamela in the starting line-up, vindicated his selection with the opening goal at Wembley. Son had already gone close to breaking the deadlock and was causing Andrea Barzagli all sorts of problems with his marauding runs. There was more than a touch of fortune about the goal, which rebounded off his left leg and wrong-footed veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon, but it was no less than the Spurs forward deserved.
Son came close to levelling the tie in the latter stages but, ultimately, it was to be neither his nor Tottenham’s night. With 16 goals in all competitions this season, the 25-year-old is making a big impression. He was the home side’s most potent attacking force, upstaging both Kane and Dele Alli at Wembley. Son has finally established himself in the starting XI and Spurs fans will hope he can continue to ease the goalscoring burden on Kane.
Juventus eye up Chelsea’s Gary Cahill as a replacement for Leonardo Bonucci – Should they let him go?
In a surprising news item, The Sun claim that Juventus could look to Chelsea to replace Leonardo Bonucci after the Italian’s move to AC Milan and may target Gary Cahill as a replacement.
The Chelsea captain is currently serving a three game suspension after his red card on the opening day, but the Italian club may be hoping that he has played his last game for the Blues. They are reportedly prepared to spend as much as £16.5 million to bring him to the Juventus Stadium.
That could be tempting for Chelsea given that Cahill is 31-years-old and undoubtedly past his best. With a number of young defenders coming through, including the likes of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen, it could be tempting to cash in on Cahill and give more opportunities for them to develop.
His rash challenge against Burnley also left his team in the lurch and critics have claimed that it was symbolic of how out of depth the former Bolton man is as captain of the Premier League champions. With mounting pressure, he will need to be up to scratch when under scrutiny more than anyone.
However, Cahill was only recently appointed captain and it would send out entirely the wrong message if he was to be sold now. After a disastrous transfer window so far, it would not only be a psychological blow to lose the club captain, but would also leave Antonio Conte with less than a week to replace him.
His experience is also invaluable. Whilst the likes of Christensen may be knocking on the door of the starting line-up, he will need experienced heads like Cahill’s in and around him to help his development to reach his full potential as a Chelsea player in the years to come.
It could be tempting for Chelsea to allow Cahill to move on, and had this move have happened in June, it may well stand a chance of happening. Now with the season under way and only a matter of days away from the transfer window closing, it would be an incomprehensible decision if Chelsea do sell their captain.
Claudio Marchisio linked to Chelsea – what would he bring?
Chelsea are likely to be active until the final days of the transfer window as they look to add quality and depth to their squad. Antonio Conte currently lacks options outside of his starting eleven and competition is needed if they are to successfully defend their title. Gazzetta dello Sport report that the Italian is interested in signing Claudio Marchisio, who he has worked closely with before.
The midfielder is understood to be unhappy at Juventus due to being a bit-part player under the current regime. Ahead of the World Cup, he wants to play regular first team football and could be prepared to force a move before the transfer window closes. The Serie A champions already have a lot of players in the position and have recently bought Blaise Matuidi, which further limit the minutes that Marchisio is likely to be given.
What would he bring to Stamford Bridge?
The Blues have been criticised for their lack of ambition and poor squad planning this summer, but those will quickly be brushed to one side if they can land Marchisio. Despite having an underwhelming 2016/17 campaign, the midfielder is still regarded as a great player and it would send a statement to the rest of the division if Chelsea manage to bring him to the Premier League.
There is already a working relationship between Marchisio and Conte, which would mean that he would be able to adapt quickly to the style at Chelsea. He understands what it requires to be successful in a team managed by his fellow Italian, while the Blues’ manager trusts the midfielder. That can’t be said about certain other players currently at Stamford Bridge.
It has already been evident that Chelsea are short in central midfield as they resorted to playing David Luiz there at the weekend. The Brazilian played well, but it underlined the squad problems that the club have. Marchisio is disciplined and capable of carrying out a specific role in the team, which appeals to Conte. He can be a creative presence from deep and offers more than Cesc Fabregas does in terms of defensive work. It would be a smart signing if the Blues can pull it off.
How likely is a deal?
Juventus have already lost two important players this summer in Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci. It would be a surprise if they also let Marchisio leave the club. The midfielder could force the issue, but unless Chelsea submit a huge offer, a transfer looks unlikely at this late stage of the window. Conte will want to add another central midfielder, but there are other positions that are viewed as a bigger priority.
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