England must be wary of the Juventus contingent when they kick off their World Cup campaign against Italy next Saturday.
The Old Lady waltzed to a third consecutive Scudetto by amassing a huge 102 point total, winning 33 of their 38 games in the process. And the stars of that side will be hoping to inflict pain on Roy Hodgson’s young guns, with Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Giorgio Chiellini the standout names.
Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci complete Juventus’ Italian contribution to the finals. Buffon has defied age and continues to produce match winning performances on a regular basis, and will captain the side hoping to win a record equalling fifth World Cup in Brazil.
He was part of the team that lifted the trophy in 2006, but after watching Fabio Cannavaro lift the trophy on that occasion he will be hoping that 2014 is his turn. Pirlo was another present in 2006, and was recently described by ex-Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes as the best playmaker in world football.
After being let go by AC Milan in the summer of 2011 he was widely expected to continue his career on foreign soil, in a less competitive league. Instead, he was brought to the club by Antonio Conte and has found the form of old, forcing fans of the Old Lady to forget his Milanese allegiance with displays of artistry and class.
Chiellini’s talents as a solid, no-nonsense defender are well known, and the Italian will be amongst the best defenders taking part in the Brazil showpiece.
He has stuck with the club through thick and thin, and will be entrusted the responsibility of stopping the likes of Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge – a task made difficult by the impressive form of the latter, who scored in England’s 3-0 win over Peru last week.
Marchisio was another crucial cog in the Juventus machine last season, but has faced speculation over his future in certain months. He could use the tournament to convince either Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur to register their interest in his services.
Barzagli and Bonucci, like Chiellini, will be given the responsibilities of thwarting the England attack, and formed part of the defence that managed to concede a poultry 23 goals on the way to the Scudetto.
Juventus’ success has been Italy’s gain. The world will have to see whether they can use their club form to propel them to even greater heights.
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