If I were to use the word “dramatic” and associate it with a top football league, the first impression that many a reader would have is that I’m talking about England’s fast-paced Premier League.
Yes, the Premier League has a special kind of charm, with its end to end, physical, non-stop action spreading joy and stealing the hearts – when it’s not in fans’ mouths – of football fans all over the world. And at this moment in time, yes, the Premier League is probably the “most dramatic” there is.
But, if one were to turn back the clock, and branch out into the finer arts of philology, and check with the etymology of “dramatic”, it can be fairly accurately guessed that the late Latins used the word to describe events outside theatre, and liken events in real life which jump out of the page to those which happen in stories or plays.
Italy has always been a country with a touch of magical realism (the general acceptance that magical or unrealistic events happen in the real world) about it. It is a place where culture is revered, food is delectable, and passions run high. Italy is also a country where a controversy is always just around the corner. These facets make life in Italy, an almost real world, never ending drama”(albeit, as with everything good and great which have sustained over a considerable period of time, one with low ebbs).
And everyday life in Italy is so deeply intertwined with football, that a connection to dramaticism can be made, with Italy’s Serie A, where the football players and clubs act as the artists, the football pitch is the stage, the football season is the story, the fans are the audience, and where Italy itself, represents a maverick atmosphere which makes football much more than a game in the boot-shaped country.
Owners who are politicians or movie directors, scandals such as the Calciopoli, pizza, fashion, glitz, glamour, intense tactics, and world class players certainly added to Serie A’s dramatic appeal when it had it’s day in the sun.
It may take a purist to appreciate this, just as it takes a purist in cricket to enjoy the Test format, and if that is the case, it is for the purist that I write this. Here is my take on Serie A’s best XI. It was not an easy task in any sense, and it was so hard that I had to add a substitutes bench in order to not do injustice to some of the greatest players to ever play the game.
The team takes place in a 3-4-3 formation.
Italy’s most capped goalkeeper just shades Dino Zoff (who has to settle for a place on the bench) to claim the position between the sticks in this all-time XI. Buffon holds the record for the most-clean sheets in Serie A, as well as with the national team. He is considered by pundits, coaches, and fellow players alike, to be one of the greatest goalkeepers ever, and he lays claim to a number of records.
He made his Serie A debut for Parma in 1995, aged 17, against eventual Champions Milan, against whom he kept a clean sheet in the game. Buffon became the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of the game when Juventus splurged a whopping €51m on him. He was only 23 at the time.
Buffon has made 808 career appearances and held himself within high distinction throughout his long career. He also holds the record of going the most number of minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A history (974 minutes).
Buffon was also runner-up in the Ballon d'Or in 2006, a rare and commendable feat for a goalkeeper, and he recently also won the Golden Foot award, becoming the first goalkeeper in the history of the game to do so.