Andrea Pirlo's Top 5 World Cup Moments

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

Andrea Pirlo's Top 5 World Cup Moments

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Once again, Italy head to the World Cup with Andrea Pirlo viewed as the key man. His touch, vision and range of passing are unsurpassed by any player at the tournament. Now a 35-year-old veteran for the Azzurri, the Juventus midfielder has shown no signs of the decline that has plagued others entering the autumn of their careers.

    A member of the last four teams to win the Serie A title, he remains as influential as he was when helping his national side to the ultimate glory in 2006. Also possessing two Champions League winner’s medals, his club success has been incredible to watch, but it is rivalled by an international career that has seen him grace the famous blue shirt for more than a decade.

    Over the following pages are the five best moments Andrea Pirlo has enjoyed on the grandest of stages, and he is sure to add more in Brazil, his third World Cup. 

5. Holding off Team USA

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    IVAN SEKRETAREV/Associated Press

    In the second match of the 2006 World Cup, the Azzurri were given a tough examination by a hard-working USA team. Pirlo would prove equal to the task, first setting up Alberto Gilardino for Italy’s only goal before three red cards marred the game.

    With Daniele De Rossi sent off for a brutal elbow on Brian McBride, Pirlo would join forces with Milan team-mate Gennaro Gattuso to hold on for a vital point. 

4. Opening the Tournament with a Win

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    Italy have a well-earned reputation as notoriously slow starters in international tournaments, but in 2006, Pirlo would personally ensure that was not the case.

    As they began their campaign against Ghana, it would be the then-Milan midfielder who opened the scoring to deliver a winning start for Marcello Lippi's side. 

3. A Virtuoso Final Display

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    Where some players wilt and fade into the background when the pressure is highest, Andrea Pirlo would use the World Cup final to deliver the kind of masterful performance with which he is now synonymous. 

    Showcasing all his entire range of passing on the grandest of all stages, he would deliver the corner kick from which Marco Materazzi would equalize for the Azzurri as he continued his fine form that summer in the biggest match of his career. 

2. ...And a Vital Penalty

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Having been unable to help his side win the match in normal time, Pirlo would step up to take the first penalty in the shootout, slotting past Fabian Barthez and ensuring the best possible start for what would prove to be a highly emotional victory.

    However, he did spend the rest of the shootout unable to watch, hiding behind team-mate and captain Fabio Cannavaro! 

1. THAT Pass to Fabio Grosso

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    Yes, he netted a penalty in a World Cup final shootout. However, in the previous match, Andrea Pirlo made a pass that epitomised him as a player.

    With the clock winding down in extra time, he calmly slipped an incredible no-look pass to Fabio Grosso to ensure the Azzurri would progress.