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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup

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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

#WorldCupRank: No. 15 Andrea Pirlo

« Previous: No. 16, Bastian Schweinsteiger | Next: No. 14, Wayne Rooney »

No. 15 Andrea Pirlo, Juventus/Italy

Why he's ranked: Reports of Pirlo's desire to vacate his seat at the game's top table of midfield maestros were well and truly banished at the Euro 2012 championships, where he emerged as the star of the tournament and nearly led Italy to an expected triumph. He is a silky passer, a fine reader of the game and still a real force to be reckoned with at the age of 35.

Even at his advanced age, the venerable Andrea Pirlo should still be a huge factor for Italy.

Key stat: One of six Italians with 100 career caps, Pirlo has averaged 68.3 completed passes per league game since 2009, the most by any player in Serie A.

What the experts say: "It can seem like he plays in a tux while holding a baton -- such is Pirlo's renown as the conductor of Italy's orchestra. Flowers are thrown at his feet from the gallery. Standing ovations given. [He is] a genius." - James Horncastle

What You Think:

Other articles:
- ESPN FC Blogs: Italy
- The countdown: Our Top 50 players of the World Cup
- James Tyler: Praising the eternal Pirlo

« Previous: No. 16, Bastian Schweinsteiger | Next: No. 14, Wayne Rooney »

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