Soccer World Cup

Italy’s Five Best Players in 2013

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5 Best Italy Players Of 2013

Picture provided by the Italian national team official Facebook page

2014 will be a very important year for the Italian national team. Besides the obvious excitement and pressure around the World Cup in Brazil in which the Azzurri are required, as usual, to excel, the year will also be an opportunity for many revelations of the previous one to finally establish themselves as important point of references for the team.

Over the course of the year, in fact, the boss Cesare Prandelli obtained important results, both in the Confederations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, mainly thanks to his merit of bringing new faces to the team who were capable of showing their skills and maturity despite the heavy weight of the jersey.

Of course many of the most experienced players who have been playing for the Azzurri for a long time and are the authentic leaders added important performances that helped the team achieve relevant results. Even the captain Gianluigi Buffon, who despite not having had the best year of his career, added enough merits to finally become the most capped player in Italy's history by reaching 138 matches and overcoming the legendary defender Fabio Cannavaro who reached 136.

This achievement is so magnificent that it is able to cancel out any mistake the 35-year-old might have made in certain games. Moreover, chances are that he will now continue to hold this record for much longer as it is very unlikely that another player will beat it in the near future.

Also other leaders such as Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Gilardino had a very silent but highly relevant year with the Azzurri. The midfielder, who is destined to become the captain after the goodbyes of Buffon and Andrea Pirlo, added important caps and showed once more why he is so important for the team. Furthermore, despite the poor amount of minutes added, the forward demonstrated what it is to be an important point of reference, especially with the crucial goal scored against Bulgaria that basically secured Italy's ticket to Brazil.

Other special mentions for great performances during the year go to the Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Barzagli, and Alessandro Florenzi, in addition to the great returns of Domenico Criscito and Giuseppe Rossi.

Without further ado, here are the best five Italy players of 2013.

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5. Giorgio Chiellini

Picture provided by Giorgio Chiellini official Facebook page

It is not a surprise that the 29-year-old is not really among the favorite players for the fans. However, the truth is that every year Chiellini becomes more relevant for the Azzurri thanks to his strong character and defensive attitudes. Without a doubt, his performances during the year proved that he will be the most important defender for the near future.

Perhaps it can be argued that he does not match the same level traditionally shown by the great defenders of the past. However, he has matured a unique ability of also scoring important goals, like the ones against Brazil in the Confederations Cup and Czech Republic in the game that qualified Italy to the World Cup.

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4. Emanuele Giaccherini

Picture provided by the Italian national team official Facebook page

Just like Chiellini, Emanuele Giaccherini is also a player that has been highly criticized by the fans. However, the boss Prandelli keeps proving that it was a good decision to rely on the 28-year-old who is always able to perform well in any position he might be required to play.

After a good first adventure in Nazionale in 2012, he finally just had his consecration year as he was even voted as the best Italian player in the Confederations Cup. Furthermore, he even achieved the special record of having scored the fastest goal in Italy's history in the friendly against Haiti.

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3. Mario Balotelli

Picture provided by the Italian national team official Facebook page

Like him or not, Mario Balotelli is without a doubt the player with the biggest media influence in Italy. Despite his attitudes and behaviors which are not always the most appropriate, the playing style of the 23-year-old highly reminds the fans of the great Italian forwards of the past thanks to his great talent and physical strength.

Thanks to his good performances during the course of this year, Balotelli now has 12 goals with the national team, and considering his young age he has strong chances of beating the top-scorer ever. That title is currently held by the legend Luigi Riva with 35 goals.

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2. Andrea Pirlo

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It's impossible not to add Andrea Pirlo to this list considering that he has already become one of the best players in Nazionale's history. Without a doubt, he will be Prandelli's most important asset in the World Cup.

Having had a 2013 not any better than his usual performances, the 34-year-old regularly played as an authentic leader and became the fifth Italian player in ever reaching the 100 caps with the national team. This is a very relevant achievement considering that the first four are all defenders and goalkeepers.

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1. Antonio Candreva

Picture provided by the Italian national team official Facebook page

There is no doubt that Antonio Candreva was the Nazionale's biggest revelation of the year. Despite not having scored any goal, the 26-year-old impressed the whole world with magnificent performances all year long, forcing the boss Cesare Prandelli to constantly use different formations in order to take advantage of his skills.

Furthermore, the most surprising thing was the strong character with which Candreva stepped onto the pitch every time he was required to play, which was no different than the ones historically seen by the best generations of the Azzurri. The biggest example was the stupendous penalty kick scored on Iker Casillas in the Confederations Cup semifinals.