If being placed in the group of death was not enough, then being held back against teams like Honduras and Ecuador have further detested English claims of getting out of it. At a stage where everybody expected them to be at their level best, Roy Hodgson’s men have let their manager down in a tense situation. Steven Gerrard is expected to be the pivotal point of the English team in the World Cup and surely he will face a stern competition from his counter-part Andrea Pirlo when the duo will meet in the opening fixture in Manaus. We take a look that who has the greater chance of emerging as the winner in the final before the final in group of death.
Last season’s form
Both Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo have had a brilliant season under their belt in the World Cup year. Gerrard was a star man in a Liverpool shirt as he became the top assist maker this season in the Premier league. Steven Gerrard was the major reason why the Liverpool team came agonisingly close to the Premier league triumph. While Steven Gerrard was in the goals and assists last season, Andrea Pirlo got one step better as he clinched the Serie A title. We take a comparative look on the star players’ performances last season.
While the above mentioned stats cannot measure the grandeur of these two players have, they can be enough to determine who will shine on the big day. While Steven Gerrard is just one year young than Pirlo, his performances depict the younger nature of his game as well. While Andrea Pirlo has the privilege of playing with experienced midfielders like Arturo Vidal, Kevin Asamoah and Claudio Marchisio in the Juventus midfield, Steven Gerrard was quite on his own as he played alongside the youngsters Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho in a Liverpool shirt.
That in itself gives huge credit to the three lions captain as he surrendered his natural position to help his team-mates and the manager Brendan Rodgers amid a beautiful season for the reds. However nothing can be taken away from the Azurri International Pirlo as well as at the age of 34 he started 29 games for the Old Lady and gave confidence to players like Paul Pogba to go forward and express themselves in a better way.
Being part of a Liverpool squad in which the two central defenders are left alone as a result of attacking football, Steven Gerrard shared the responsibility of evacuating his team out of danger many times. As a result his defensive contributions are slightly more than Andrea Pirlo who played in a more balanced role for Antonio Conte’s men. Thus, his defensive contributions are scarce comparing with the Liverpool captain.
In a relatively naive and young Liverpool side, it was Steven Gerrard who shared the burden of last ditch defending along with the defenders. On the other hand Pirlo who is not renowned for his tackling skills, had a whole cluster of heavy tacklers alongside him in Vidal and Asamoah. While these stats shows the authenticity, it should be kept in mind that Roy Hodgson men will be more stable defensively than Liverpool side. But in the absence of experienced players and with players like Frank Lampard on the bench, it should come as no surprise if Steven Gerrard opts for a defensive role for the English team as-well.
Hunger For Success
Although Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo are standing still on individual basis yet it is the Italian who leads the race in honours. Being part of an Italian squad that won the World cup back in 2006 and having won 5 league titles with AC Milan and Juventus, it is the Italian who leads the race in comparison with Gerrard whose International level success isn’t something to be envied for the Azzurri International
Keeping in mind all the success the Italian has enjoyed on the most glorified level in the world, the World Cup, it might be the hunger for success that can differentiate the duo. While Pirlo is looking to say goodbye to a glamorous career, Steven Gerrard will be hoping to at least end his career on a high. Having been a part of English team whose best achievement was reaching the Quarter finals of the World Cup, Steven Gerrard’s England National team career might not be a role as far as the young talent is concerned. So with a 1 last chance with the most energetic team he has played with since putting on the THREE LIONS shirt coming his way, Steven Gerrard is looking to make the most of this opportunity.
Pirlo Has a Better Chance
With all the talks of statistical comparisons and the inevitable hunger of success behind us, Andrea Pirlo and Italy are expected to show the torch to Steven Gerrard and co. While the English squad is full of promise with the likes of Sterling, Henderson and Barkley in the midfield, this experiment can backfire as none of these players have ever played on any big stage before let alone the World Cup. In comparison to this, the Italians have more quality as the likes of Guiseppe Rossi weren’t able to earn a place in Cesar Prandelli’s team. So keeping out of mind the uncertainty this level football provides to billions, the Italians have an edge over the English in both teams’ opener at Manaus.
NOTE: Stats from whoscored.com and squawka.com.