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Andrea Pirlo: The most decisive player of all time for the Italian national team

Arjun Pradeep
ANALYST
Modified 20 Mar 2019, 14:54 IST
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Football has evolved a lot from when it started. The game has evolved from the traditional way of the keeper hoisting the ball ahead to the goalkeeper having an important role to possess the ability to pass from the back and distribute to other players in the pitch. Pirlo has changed the style from the long associated catenaccio style of football to a much entertaining beautiful passing football. It was necessary to make a change from high tempo based play to a much slower tempo, patient way of playing the game as a team.

Pirlo is one player who imparts sense to everyone who plays alongside him apart from the confidence he elevates in them while playing the game. Italy would have easily gone out in the penalty shootout against England and lacked confidence when they were trailing and the “Professor” calmly chipped the ball over Joe Hart to win the penalty shootout. What happened after that was a rise in the confidence of every Italian who took the penalty while the nervousness in every Englishman who took one.

That is what Pirlo can do, change the game silently without anyone giving him the major credit. We have all lost count of the number of passes he averages every game, involving every player in the game. We have stopped counting the number of ways he can assist or score from set pieces. Right from uniquely making a short pass to placing the ball towards goal, Pirlo has multiple dimensions in his set pieces. He has been able to efficiently make key passes with both his feet.>

He is the player who intimidates every opponent while taking the pressure of most of his team mates. It is easy to suggest a tactic as to stop Pirlo from running the game and Italy will stop playing the game.  Lacking pace and vulnerable to counter attacks and getting caught on the ball on some occasions, it is astonishing in the way Pirlo will use the player who marks him as a puppet making him run all over the field, taking him to undesirable and ridiculous areas of the pitch. He isn’t a player who will just score goals or just give assists or just make passes. He is a player who will run the game to help his team win it.

There have been very few players in the history of football who relieve the pressure of defenders by keeping the possession of the ball, giving key passes that lead to a goal and combining all the above characteristics to dictate the tempo of the game.

Pirlo will head into the World Cup in Brazil aged 35. He will continue to enter his last major tournament for the Italian National Team as their most important player.  He will be the difference that will win you the game and the tournament eventually. He has been very consistent for the Italians in his long span of international career. He has had the same impact on Italy as the likes of Pele, Maradona and Zidane had on their countries and being successful without him would take a very long time for Italy. Pirlo has been the most decisive player that the Italian national team has ever had.

Honours with the National team

UEFA European Under 21 Championships 2000: Winner

Summer Olympics 2004: Bronze Medal

FIFA World Cup 2006: Winner

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UEFA European Championships 2012: Runner up

FIFA Confederations Cup 2013: 3rd place

Statistics

1. Italy have won an astounding figure of close to 60% of their games that Andrea Pirlo has featured in and drawing 25% of their games while losing in only 15% of their games.

2. Prior to beating Uruguay in a 3rd place penalty shootout in the 2013 Confederations Cup, Italy had never registered a win in any game without Andrea Pirlo at every major tournament since the 2002 World Cup.

3. Andrea Pirlo has the 5th highest appearances for the Italian National team

4. If Andrea Pirlo plays against England in this year’s World Cup, he will be the 7th oldest Italian to represent the nation at any major tournament.

5. Pirlo has been a part of each of the Italian National Team’s set up right from the under 15 team to the world cup winning team of 2006.

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Published 10 Feb 2014, 12:10 IST
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