EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Play like Andrea Pirlo

Football genius Andrea Pirlo has retired – the 38-year-old won 116 caps for Italy and helped them win the 2006 World Cup and had many club honours – he played like a quarterback spraying the ball all over the pitch.
Use the diagram below to create a Pirlo for your team.

Andrea Pirlo

Italy’s Pirlo is challenged by Malta’s Fenech and Briffa during their Euro 2016 qualification match at the Franchi stadium in Florence

Andrea PIrlo was part of a Milan side who won two Serie A titles, two Champions Leagues and a Club World Cup between 2003 and 2011, then was instrumental in Juventus winning four successive Scudettos between 2012 and 2015.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Pirlo also thanked “every team that I had the honour to play for” and “every team-mate that I have been pleased to play alongside”.

Former club Juventus described him as a “true genius”.

The ‘Pirlo role’ is understood worldwide as the one in which he did his best work: sitting in the pocket in front of the defence, picking out passes like an NFL quarterback.

Former Arsenal and France midfielder Patrick Vieira, who has been Pirlo’s manager at New York City for the last two years, said: “He’s one of the best holding midfielders ever – he changed the position of the number six.
“Before, the role was just tackling and winning the ball, but now you have to be a playmaker, you have to be as good as your number 10 with the ball.”

There are lots of players who have Pirlo to thank for the most memorable strike of their careers, like Fabio Grosso whose extra-time winner against Germany in the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup was made possible by a wonderful Pirlo pass.

Pirlo is the pass master, a pivotal player who despite his lack of pace utilises his brain, experience and skill to exploit holes that open up during the game. His deep lying role, called a ‘regista’ in Italy, provides players to protect him, allows him time to assess options, and gives him a position he can create difficult angles from. Given time and space he will destroy teams

Rather than an aimless ball hit into the channels, Pirlo hits perfectly weighted through balls aimed into space for an attacker or attacking midfielder to run on to. For the person executing the pass it needs vision, the ability to see gaps and at the same time players who are prepared to exploit them. There’s no point playing a ball into space if no one can gather it.

The best tribute came from Juventus goalkeeping legend Gigi Buffon, quite possibly the best-ever to play his own position, after Pirlo arrived at Juventus in 2011.

“When I saw him playing,” said Buffon. “I thought to myself, ‘God exists’.”

Killer pass

    1. Play starts from the half way line – you can pass into the red team or play so the teams compete for the ball
    2. The shaded area is where the ball should be heading (on either side of the pitch)
    3. The idea for the attacking team is to have two attackers patrolling the area and a playmaker passing balls behind the defence
    4. The white defenders must move to cover all players in a realistic fashion – don’t allow them to drop deep (ie no defenders in the penalty area until a red player goes in)
    5. Red players also should not go into the penalty area until the ball has been passed into the area
    6. The goalkeeper must stay realistic to the game and not go deep into the penalty area to catch the through balls
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