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Pirlo has become a leader for club and country.
This is the first time we encounter an area where Xavi may actually be deficient.
Andrea Pirlo has turned into the epitome of locker room leadership. He is one of only four players who have the potential to go to Brazil who were on the squad when Italy won the World Cup in 2006. His years as one of the best players in Italy's history have given him the ability to lead and unite the team by example and without bluster.
As a much-cited quote, noted by Adam Digby in ESPN FC, from former Italy manager Marcello Lippi says, "Pirlo is our silent leader. He lets his feet talk on his behalf."
Xavi, on the other hand, has proven susceptible to the regional divisions that run deeply though Spanish culture.
Many credit Xavi and Iker Casillas for helping Spain to overcome the regional divides that make Barcelona and Real Madrid such fierce rivals and spurring them to their unprecedented run of success. But after a particularly nasty series of four Clasicos in the months before Euro 2012 Xavi called Madrid players out for the way they took defeat. His comments revived fears that the team may again crack along Barca/Real lines.
Then there was the report in Spanish publication Marca, during the Confederations Cup, that Xavi had informed coaches which players he preferred to play with and tried to press Vicente Del Bosque into playing him in a different position after Xabi Alonso was injured.
Del Bosque denied this, but that disturbing report—along with again blasting Jose Mourinho's Madrid—has brought up troubling questions about Xavi's quality as a leader in the dressing room.
Pirlo is a man who leads with his play. If everything we're hearing about Xavi is true, he may be starting to lead with his ego.