Andrea Pirlo was rightly given the man of the match award against England. His performance was a master-class when it comes to dictating play and controlling the tempo of the game. Pirlo is 33 years old but has been playing this way for the last 5-10 years. His game has never been about running from box to box and hard tackling like Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard. He likes to sit deep close to the defense and range of passing and control is incredible.
England’s midfielders looked very ordinary compared to him. It would be wrong to dismiss the entire England midfield as Gerrard has been England’s best outfield player setting up three goals. Scott Parker did what everyone expected, the terrier in midfield trying to unsettle the opponents but his distribution in the final third leaves much to be desired.
England do have players that are capable of playing a similar role to Pirlo. I’m not saying England should play like Italy but what you can’t help but notice about England is that they simply can not keep the ball. They spend most of their matches chasing the ball and don’t have players that can control the tempo of the game when they do win the ball back. Jack Wilshire is a player that much is expected from while Gareth Barry has improved this reputation after a solid season for Manchester City. But the one player that I think is most like Pirlo is Manchester United’s Michael Carrick.
His reputation suffers a bit in England because, like Pirlo, he is never been a hard tackler or a prolific goal scorer. He is more of a deep-lying playmaker who likes to sit around the centre circle and rarely ventures too far forward. He was left out of the England squad at his own request telling Roy Hodgson that he didn’t want to be involved in the team if he was only going to be a fringe player. A move that saw him miss out on a spot on the stand by list. It’s such a disappointing decision by Carrick as really he should make himself available to his nation whether he is first choice or not. How England could have used his services after Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Wilshire were all absent through injury.