Pirlo will be a Champions League star again after carrying the Serie A torch in Goal.com 50


By Andrea Ghislandi

First Ezequiel Lavezzi, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and for a while it appeared Julio Cesar and Maicon would leave too. And let’s not forget Alessandro Del Piero, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi either.

For one reason or another, unlike any other Serie A season, Italian football is becoming less and less attractive – and the Calcioscommesse scandal has certainly not helped. The league is also becoming increasingly poorer from a technical point of view, having lost many champions who have written their names in thick black marker into the history books of Italian football.

Some of them have moved on due to their advancing age, with the real blame for the feeling of loss being the fact that these superstars with a capital S have not been replaced. The remaining so-called top players have been attracted by the petrodollars of Arabs and Russians who do not care about the global financial crisis or Financial Fair Play.

The result is that Andrea Pirlo, the great architect behind the rebirth of Juventus, is the only footballer to ply his trade in Serie A last season who finished amongst the top 30 of the 2011-12 Goal.com 50, the list of the greatest players of the past year, voted for by Goal.com journalists across the world.

PIRLO IN 2011-12
Serie A

Coppa Italia

Euro 2012

Euro qualifiers

International friendlies









To find another protagonist from the Italian league, you need to go down to 37th position, occupied by another Juventino, Arturo Vidal, with Gianluigi Buffon not far behind. The Bianconeri regista occupies fifth place, on the shoulder of Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.

Therefore, after the two phenomena of world football and the two Euro-winning Spaniards, it is widely accepted that Pirlo was the best player of the past season; the biggest determining factor to his club and international side.

What Juve didn’t possess under former coach Luigi Del Neri was the “silent leader” type in midfield, and with Pirlo’s signature last summer came the addition of performances and panache that the Bianconeri had been missing previously. After an almost non-season in the Milan shirt, during which time there were some misunderstandings with Massimiliano Allegri, Pirlo has bounced back to be exactly the type of driving force he was during his peak years.

He chalked up many assists (11), added a handful of goals (three), but above all he delivered countless monstrous performances, giving confidence and leadership to a squad of players less accustomed to winning. It’s true that Juventus had the advantage of not playing in European competition, but those who had doubted Pirlo could be influential at a continental level were quickly put in their place thanks to his performances at Euro 2012. The final against Spain apart, he ran the show, with his poise and delightful play transfixing football fans across Europe.

In the season ahead, his class will illuminate the biggest stage once more. There is something about Pirlo and the Champions League that just clicks. He will surely brighten up the whole competition, after all, he is more than accustomed to winning the trophy with the big ears, having collected it twice as a Milan player in 2002-03 and 2006-07.

The hunt for a third European title starts now, and this time in black and white. It is a difficult challenge, similar in scale to Mount Everest, but with Pirlo and his magic, there’s plenty of reason for Juventus fans to dream.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Tottenham's Sissoko charged by FA with violent conduct

      Tottenham's Sissoko charged by FA with violent conduct

      (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Moussa Sissoko has been charged with violent conduct over an incident involving Bournemouth's Harry Arter, the Football Association said on Monday. The 27-year-old, who came on as a substitute in Tottenham's … More »

      Reuters - 38 minutes ago
    • Dual Manchester slump adds gravitas to EFL Cup derby

      Dual Manchester slump adds gravitas to EFL Cup derby

      Any suggestion that Wednesday's EFL Cup showdown between Manchester United and City would lack the usual derby intensity has been removed by the gathering pressure on both managers. While Jose Mourinho seeks a response to the humiliation inflicted … More »

      Reuters - 51 minutes ago
    • Gazidis worth $3.24 million salary, say Arsenal

      Gazidis worth $3.24 million salary, say Arsenal

      (Reuters) - Arsenal have defended a 40 percent increase in the bonus paid to chief executive Ivan Gazidis, whose overall financial package is now 2.65 million pounds. The issue was raised at the club's annual general meeting on Monday, when … More »

      Reuters - 52 minutes ago
    • Kroenke to AP: 'Very high' on Wenger, 'very hard' to replace

      Kroenke to AP: 'Very high' on Wenger, 'very hard' to replace

      Arsenal remains ''very high'' on Arsene Wenger and it will be ''very hard'' replacing the manager who is in the final year of his contract, owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press on Monday. Wenger this month celebrated 20 years in charge of … More »

      AP - Sports - 55 minutes ago
    • Revolution's Kamara twerks his way into trouble

      (Reuters) - Major League Soccer (MLS) appeared to take a leaf out of the National Football League's (NFL) rule book on Sunday as New England Revolution's Kei Kamara was cautioned for twerking during the game against Montreal Imapact on Sunday. The … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 1 minute ago