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Soccer World Cup

Italy Must Preserve Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo

Offside Sports-USA TODAY Sports

In the 1-0 win over Udinese last Sunday, Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo suffered a knee injury that will keep him away from the fields for more than 40 days. For the Bianconeri, this represents the worst news at such a delicate moment of the season, which also includes the decisive Istanbul game against Galatasaray that will determine whether or not the club will qualify to the next round of Champions League.

Moreover, beyond the simple fact that it represents a relevant absence for his team, Pirlo’s injury is also a wake-up call. Italian soccer should realize that it’s imperative to preserve its best talents, not only for the good of the league as a whole, but especially for the sake of the national team in view of the 2014 World Cup.

As a matter of fact, in only four months into the season, already three of Italy’s best players have suffered relevant injuries. The first one happened two months ago and involved Roma‘s captain Francesco Totti, right when his chances of returning to the national team were significantly increasing as he was leading his team to a historic beginning of the season. The 37-year-old is still not recovered and his dream of playing in the World Cup is vanishing on a daily basis.

The second injury happened last Saturday to Parmas talent Antonio Cassano, who broke his nose after getting hit during the game against Bologna, in which he also scored his 100th goal in Serie A. Like Totti, also the 31-year-old is now forced to be away from the fields right when his shape was at a magnificent level. Fortunately for him, however, the recovery time for this particular injury should not be considerably long. For this reason, he can still dream to earn a spot in the national team for the World Cup.

Fans and journalists could argue that both the injuries of Totti and Cassano do not directly harm the national team as they have not been part of the Azzurri for a long time and their chances of returning to the team were always low. As a consequence, as far as the national team is concerned, the situation doesn’t appear to be drastic.

However, it is the total opposite, considering that players like Totti and Cassano represent stupendous talents. Consequently, being able to approach the World Cup season with players in a good shape can only be beneficial for the country, because even if they don’t get selected by Cesare Prandelli, their form would automatically increase the competition among other players, who will be more motivated to perform well in order to be called up.

On the other hand, the most dangerous scenario was given by the already-mentioned injury suffered by Pirlo. The 34-year-old is, without a doubt, Italy’s best player. If he won’t be able to approach the World Cup at his best, chances of Italy to perform well in the competition will significantly decrease. Fortunately, there is still enough time for him to gain his level again after the 40-day recovery.

As a consequence of all this, it is major obligation for the Italian soccer system to find a way to preserve its players as much as possible. Even though many injuries are an inevitable part of the sport, it can only be beneficial for both clubs and national team. Besides, having so many talented players in the same league is a strong source of pride that should not be wasted with avoidable injuries.

Riccardo Di Julio is a Soccer Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Italcatenaccio and add him to your network on Google.