Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo are two of the oldest players to participate in this year’s World Cup. Buffon is 36 and Pirlo is 35, but in the eyes of head coach Cesare Prandelli, age is just a number.
How is it still possible that these two players can compete at such a high level for their club, Juventus, as well as their home country of Italy? They both have to let up at some point, right? Wrong. These two players, despite their age, are considered to be the best at their positions.
Both are world class talents and will go down as legends in Italy as well as in the game of soccer. Ten years from now when FIFA 24 comes out to the latest video game console, check the “Classic XI” team and I will guarantee that both Buffon and Pirlo will be on that roster.
In the first match of Group D, Italy will take on an England team that has strong forwards and center midfielders in Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. However, outside of Glen Johnson and the young Luke Shaw, who are the center backs that will start for England?
I’m assuming it will be the combination of Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill, but I have no idea what is going on in Roy Hodgson’s head. Jagielka and Cahill will have a troubling time tracking Mario Balotelli, who is a menace when given the ball.
Pirlo, the set piece specialist, will be crucial in the match due to his deadly accuracy and terrific curve that is associated with his right foot. Although he is not the fastest midfielder on the pitch, he is still a playmaker and creates opportunities for his teammates. Being that this is his last World Cup, he will set out to make it a remarkable and memorable one. I expect Pirlo to make the most of his chances and put Italy in the right position to defeat England.
Buffon, totaling 140 caps, is the most-capped player in Italian football history, and will bring the same amount of passion as he did when he was first selected to “Gli Azzurri.” Believed to be his last World Cup, Buffon will need to be strong in the net as Rooney and Sturridge will look to strike whenever possible. Although I am not a huge fan of the Italian National Football team, I anticipate a victory for Buffon and company with a score of 2-0.
Collin Ruby is a Soccer Writer for RantSports.com, follow him on Twitter @Collin_Ruby