World Cup 2014: Italy – Key Players

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Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo

Age

35

Club

Juventus

Position

Midfielder

Int. Caps

108

Int. Goals

13

 

Even at 35, Andrea Pirlo remains the classiest midfielders around in world football and very few in the world can control matches in the manner that the Juventus superstar can.

Many felt that Pirlo’s time at the highest level was up after he was released by AC Milan a few years ago, but the midfielder has completely reinvented himself with Juventus, leading the Bianconeri to three consecutive league titles.

A pass master who can dictate the pace of the game at will, Pirlo usually plays as a deep lying midfielder for club and country, and orchestrates his side’s attack. The 35-year old has the ability to change the course of the game with a single through ball and his expertise in dead ball situations is second to none.

Italy may only stand an outside chance of winning the World Cup and the Azzuri will certainly require Pirlo to be at his best if they hope to claim a record equaling 5th title.

Gianluigi Buffon (Captain)

Buffon

Age

36

Club

Juventus

Position

Goalkeeper

Int. Caps

139

Int. Goals

0

 

The most experienced member of the Italian national team, Gianluigi Buffon is the inspirational leader of the Azzuri. Having amassed over 130 appearances for Italy, this will be Buffon’s fourth appearance at the World Cup finals and despite his advancing years, the Juventus custodian remains the finest goalkeepers around.

At 36, Buffon does not seem to have lost any of his agility and with age, the Juventus star seems to be growing into an even more influential member for his sides both at club and international level.

Buffon enjoyed another fine campaign with Juventus this season, leading the club to the league title and he will surely be looking to cap off a wonderful year by winning his second World Cup crown in Brazil.

Mario Balotelli

Balotelli

Age

23

Club

AC Milan

Position

Striker

Int. Caps

29

Int. Goals

12

 

While his talent is undoubted, Mario Balotelli does not seem interested in growing up. At 23, Balotelli is no longer a kid but the behavioral problems that plagued him during the early part of his career is still prevalent today.

Balotelli did enjoy a decent campaign in a struggling AC Milan side, scoring 18 goals this season but couple of off field antics throughout the course of the campaign proved that the striker has not left his troubled days behind him.

For Italy though, Balotelli seems a more disciplined player and Cesare Prandelli certainly knows how to get the best out of the striker, as evidenced by his brilliant performances at the Euro 2012. The 23-year old striker is the focal point in attack for the Azzuri and is arguably the most dangerous source of goals.

Balotelli is certainly one of the best strikers in the world and if he can keep his behavior in check, the 23-year old will surely be a great asset for the Italy.

World Cup Key Players –

Group A – BrazilCroatiaMexicoCameroon

Group B –  SpainNetherlandsChileAustralia

Group C – ColombiaGreeceIvory CoastJapan

Group D – UruguayCosta RicaEnglandItaly

Group E – SwitzerlandEcuadorFranceHonduras

Group F – ArgentinaBosnia & HerzegovinaIran,  Nigeria

Group G – GermanyPortugalGhanaUnited States

Group H – BelgiumAlgeriaRussiaSouth Korea

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Hailing from the beautiful Himalayan nation of Nepal, I am an avid football follower with an enormous passion for the world game. I believe that nothing in the world can match the emotional roller coaster which fans experience while supporting their beloved teams. Founder & Owner of TheEaglesFC.com.