Italy boss Cesare Prandelli struggled to find the right superlative to describe Andrea Pirlo’s performance in Sunday night’s 2-1 victory over Mexico in Rio. “There are no more words for Andrea,” he reasoned. But then, the Azzurri boss nailed it. “Andrea Pirlo is football for us.” He’s football for so many others, too.
Pirlo is proof that the brain can still triumph over brawn; that precision is more important than power; that subtlety is more effective than strength.
The 34-year-old admitted earlier this week that he had learned a great deal about striking a dead ball from watching fromer Brazil and Olympique Lyonnais set-piece specialist Juninho in action. “I tried to imitate the way he kicked the ball, and it worked … A lot!”
Now the student has become the master, as so wonderfully underlined by the sublime free kick with which he ever so fittingly marked his 100th appearance for the Azzurri, at, of all venues, the Maracana, the spiritual home of Brazilian football.
However, as Goal‘s Kris Voakes outlines below, Pirlo is not merely our World Player of the Week for one of his set-piece specials.
“Appearing in Italy’s national colours for the 100th time, the veteran playmaker was always likely to be the centre of attention as La Nazionale took on Mexico, but the metronomic midfielder’s performance at the Maracana ensured that he was still being spoken about long into the night,” he explained from Rio.
“Not only did he score the opening goal in Italy’s 2-1 win, but he also burst into the box early on and should have won a penalty after hitting the turf.
“He could well have had an assist under his belt had Riccardo Montolivo buried a chance from Pirlo’s free-kick, but the centurion, ever the team player, will be more than happy with having contributed to the Italians earning three points in Group A.”
|Congratulations to Andrea Pirlo, Goal’s 214th World Player of the Week winner!
Yaya Toure – Ivory Coast
@AfricanHipster: “Still can’t believe Tanzania lost. But Yaya Toure is just a god.”
Goal’s Enis Koylu: “Struck twice in the 4-2 win at Tanzania that sealed Ivory Coast’s berth in the play-offs.”
Lionel Messi – Argentina
@BarcaStat: “Messi has now scored more career goals than Maradona: 348-345.”
Goal’s Dan Edwards: “Scored a treble against Guatemala to move third on Argentina’s all-time scorers’ list.”
Neymar – Brazil
@MessiLeftFoot: “I’m not saying he’s better but Neymar is more skillful than Ronaldo …”
Goal’s Tom Webber: “Ended his scoring drought in emphatic style, giving Brazil’s adoring fans the perfect start.”
Isco – Spain U21s
@KeirRadnedge: “Class act, especially man of the match Isco (scorer of fine second goal).”
Goal’s Ben Hayward: “Valencia must kick themselves, how did they let that talent escape for €6m?!”