Buffon, De Rossi, Pirlo and Barzagli. These are names immersed in Italian legend. They are the final four remaining members of Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup victory, a team much revered for their perserverance on the pitch despite the distractions back home in the form of the “Calciopoli” scandal.
These four men, beards now greying, will be present to aid the new generation in achieving their aspirations, to lead the way for others to follow. For Pirlo and Buffon this might be the final World Cup they will take part in. Saying that, do not be surprised if Buffon follows in the path of Dino Zoff, continuing onwards into his 40s.
If all goes as planned De Rossi should remain with the Azzurri to captain the side in Russia in four years’ time. Due to naggling fitness issues Barzagli meanwhile may not even step onto the pitch; Ranocchia is on standby to replace him. Here’s how these four of the Golden Generation will contribute in Brazil.
Italy’s Golden Generation
Gianluigi Buffon: Golden Gloves
Regarded as the top goalkeeper of his generation by many and rightfully so (he even won top goalkeeper at one World Cup), he has earned the silverware to back these claims up. Consistency and the spectacular are his game aided by fantastic leadership abilities; he is essentially another defender. The captain for club and country for good reason, do not be surprised to see “Gigi” single-handedly earning results.
Daniele De Rossi: The Gladiator
Daniele, still known as “Capitano Futuro” at club squad AS Roma, is a grizzly, battle-hardened midfield stalwart. Do not let the name fool you; his time is now. Winning balls in midfield will be his primary concern against the attacking juggernauts he will go head to head against such as Cavani, Rooney and Suarez in the group stage. He tends to drop deep into the pocket ahead of his defenders, covering for them in the event of error. Stamina and aggression will be his biggest assets to the squad.
Andrea Pirlo: The Architect
Andrea Pirlo has been praised throughout his career for the remarkable ball distribution abilities that he possesses. Truly one of the best set piece takers in the world, this will certainly not hurt the Azzurri’s chances one bit. He is the chemist, one to attempt the daring with explosive results – Pirlo simply sees plays which others will not. One of a kind, his absence was felt in 2010 as he was kept out of the first two matches due to injury; Italy did not progress out of the group stage in South Africa and much of this rests in Pirlo being unavailable for selection.
Andrea Barzagli (In the event he is deemed fit): The Tank
A centre back who has proven his abilities once more after not being selected for the 2010 World Cup squad under Marcelo Lippi; he would be the preferred starter in the center of defence with Chiellini, had he not suffered an injury prior to the tournament. Large, bulky and unbeatable in aerial battles, if he were deemed not to be fit and replaced by Ranocchia it would be a tragic loss for the Italian setup.
For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at Sports Injury Alert.
Feel free to discuss this and other footy related articles with thousands of fans at r/football.