Saturday, 6 June 2015

Veterans battle: Pirlo faces Xavi





When Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez face each other for the last time at the Champions League final on Saturday, there will be more than a Champions League title at stake, AFP reports.

For, lovers of the beautiful game will also be hoping to catch a glimpse of the ingenuity that has made the Juventus and Barcelona stars arguably the best midfielders in the world.
The pre-match hype may be focused on how Juventus, appearing in their first final since losing to AC Milan in 2003, will put the brakes on the seemingly unstoppable Lionel Messi.
But Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta believes fans around the world could be in for a treat as Pirlo and Xavi bid to steer their respective teams to European glory.
“It will be nice that these two references in world football come face to face with each other,” said Iniesta.
“For people that watch football, to watch Pirlo is synonymous with good football. Given his career, his way of playing, the importance of his role in the play, Pirlo is a reference for any player.”
Iniesta – and likely the large majority of Barcelona fans – believe “Xavi is the number one” player in the world in his position. As far as midfielders go, they certainly don’t get any better than Pirlo or Xavi.
Boasting a quiet composure that allows them to confidently dictate play, their vision, ball control and ability to find teammates with pinpoint passes that help create goals and win games, titles and trophies is legendary.
Xavi is Barcelona through and through, joining the Catalan club’s prestigious La Masia youth set-up as an 11 year old and going on to win eight La Liga titles, three Champions League trophies and becoming an integral part of the Spain team that won the 2010 World Cup and the past two European Championships.
Pirlo’s curriculum vitae may be only slightly less plentiful, but the 36-year-old’s feats have come in spite of a comparatively bumpier ride through Italy’s Serie A.
It was at Serie B side Brescia that Pirlo’s talents came to the attention of coach Carlo Mazzone, who promptly threw Pirlo into the deep-lying midfield role in front of the defence.
Following three, largely fruitless spells at city rivals Inter, it was a position he honed under Carlo Ancelotti after moving to AC Milan, where Pirlo’s legendary free kick skills flourished.
SOURCE: punchng
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