With numerous Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League titles, a vast amount of individual honours and a World Cup victory to his name, the trophy cabinet of 33-year-old Andrea Pirlo conveys an illustrious career of one of the most decorated players in world football.

A recent string of eye-catching performances throughout Euro 2012 and for club side Juventus has led to raving reviews from experts, players and pundits alike.

He has been described as 'the most important player of his generation' and earned the nicknamed "l'architetto" (the architect) from his Italian team-mates - on account of his supreme passing ability.

These are a mere drop in the ocean of endless accolades heaped on the player from all corners of the footballing world.

However, does his ability on the pitch really warrant such excessive praise?

Certainly he is a good player, with exceptional vision capable of defence-splitting passes. Yet does this make him the most important of his generation?

He is apt at what he does, but for a central midfielder it could be argued there are so many more rounded, complete footballers in that position.

Enter Messrs Scholes, Gerrard and Vieira.

Take Steven Gerrard, for example. He can readily deliver the same clipped balls to the strikers that Pirlo does so frequently, but moreover he marauds around the pitch offering crunching midfield tackles, storming runs on and off the ball, a searingly powerful shot and, most importantly, the rare ability to drag an entire team by the scruff of their neck to victory - think back to the finals of the 2005 Champions League and 2006 FA Cup.

It is just unfortunate for Gerrard that he has not had the same quality of team-mate that Pirlo has. The point I am making is that it is hard to imagine players like Scholes, Gerrard, Vieira and countless other midfield maestros surrendering so quickly and without resistance as the way Pirlo did in the Euro 2012 final to Spain's Xavi and Xabi Alonso - with Italy crumbling to a 4-0 defeat.

Of course these Spanish lads are a bit special, but the Italian was visibly bypassed for 90 minutes in a way that someone like Vieira would never have been - regardless of the enemy.

Regarding his club form for Juventus, he is incredibly lucky to have in Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic, two strikers whose unplayable movement and darting runs means that at any given moment he can lob a ball over towards the opposition goal - knowing they'll be on to it in a flash.

Is this, therefore, not one of the best players of his generation, but just a good player who has been given the easiest job in Serie A?

 

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