Juve’s Pearl-oPosted: March 5, 2012
Andrea Pirlo enjoyed ten glorious years at AC Milan, winning two Scudetti and two Champions League winners medals during his time there. Last summer, in somewhat of a surprising move, Pirlo left the Rossoneri to join rivals Juventus. The Bianconeri have suffered a torrid last few seasons and Pirlo was the exact thing they needed to get themselves back on track, and he’s doing just that for his new club.
Pirlo is often referred to as the “quarterback” of the team. In American football, the quarterback is the player on offense that dictates their entire way of playing. Almost all attacks that the Old Lady make are done through Pirlo; he gets the ball in a deep-lying midfield playmaker position, picks the right pass to make, and executes it in ways that other players simply can’t do. Pirlo’s contribution to the team has been outstanding this year, as Juve currently lie in second place in the league, three points behind champions AC Milan, with a game in hand on the Diavolo.
Last summer Juventus once again made wholesale changes to their playing squad, bringing in lots of new, expensive talent and getting rid of those that didn’t feature in their plans for the future. Amongst the new arrivers were Alessandro Matri (€15.5 million, from Cagliari,) Mirko Vucinic (€15 million, from Roma,) and Marco Motta (€3.75 million, Udinese.) However the single most important and most valuable signing they made came in the form of a free transfer of the 32-year-old World Cup winner.
Pirlo played an important part in Max Allegri’s title winning AC Milan side the previous season, despite being plagued by injury for a lot of it. The one league goal that he scored came in a 0-1 away win to Parma, and was easily one of the goals of the season (see below.) Allegri changed the essence of the way Milan’s midfield played football. He introduced a faster, more energetic style of play that worked perfectly, as he won the league in his first season in charge. Feeling that his chances of playing would be limited with this, Pirlo decided to leave the club he had been with for ten years.
His genius and creativity was signed up by Juventus. Last season, the Bianconeri failed to even qualify for a Europa League place, ultimately finishing 7th, whereas so far this year, with Pirlo conducting their midfield, they are unbeaten and closely contesting a two-way race for the title. He is the gem of the side who has made the good season that they are having possible.
Really highlighting the importance of Andrea Pirlo in his teams, it has been evident numerous times this year that Milan are greatly missing a player like him. In the derby defeat to Inter, Milan dominated the possession stats, but were never able to break Inter’s defence down and score. They threatened to, but once the creativity they employed wasn’t working, it looked as if Milan panicked about the situation and didn’t know what else to do. Had Pirlo been in the Milan midfield that day, his job, as he so often perfectly does, would have been to unlock that Inter defence, the way other players often aren’t able to do.
Against Juventus this season too, AC Milan have somewhat struggled when it came to creating clear cut opportunities. Milan are a very good team going forward – Ibra, Robinho, Pato, Boateng, Seedorf, Aquilani, Nocerino and to slightly lesser extents El Shaarawy, López and Emanuelson give them plenty of firepower that would have most defenders in world football trembling. They are the leading scorers in the league so far, with 53 – nine goals ahead of second highest scorers Napoli, with 44. But when faced with stern defences not giving anything up, they can fail, and have already this year, in losses to Juve, Inter, Napoli and Lazio.
If Andrea Pirlo win his second league title in a row, but with a new club, remains to be seen. Juventus could well win their first (recognised) title since 2003, and if they do, they will owe a lot of thanks to Andrea.