Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Pirlo has shown why he is the old master

By James Tait

It's one of sport's most famous phrases - form is temporary, class is permanent. And no-one epitomises the old saying more than Andrea Pirlo.

In 2011, the Italian found himself surplus to requirements at AC Milan after playing a bit-part role as the Rossoneri clinched the Serie A crown. The then 32-year-old was deemed too old for the club and was snapped up by rivals Juventus on a free transfer.

Four years on, the fortunes of both Pirlo and Milan are polar opposites. The 2006 World Cup winner has added no fewer than SEVEN trophies to his collection since joining Juve - four league titles, two Supercoppa Italianas and a Coppa Italia - and will line up against Barcelona in the Champions League final on Saturday determined to complete the treble.

And that's not all. Pirlo was voted Juventus Player of the Year in his debut season and has continued to rack up the individual honours, having the Serie A Player of the Year title bestowed on him in 2012, 2013 AND 2014.

The once great Milan, however, remain empty-handed since deciding to show the free-kick specialist the exit door and have remarkably failed to qualify for Europe altogether for the second season in succession following an underwhelming 10th-placed finish in Serie A - a massive 35 points behind Pirlo and champions Juve.

No Pirlo, no party.

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