The Champions League Final saw the Old Lady of Juventus face off against a notoriously majestic Real Madrid side amidst the 2017 Champions League final held in Cardiff, a grand stage for two undoubtedly remarkable outfits.
The arena was set; it was supposed to be an evening of pure unbridled Italian celebration, with more black & white jerseys filling the streets than you would likely find at a burglar’s fancy dress party – but in the end, such an outcome simply wasn’t to be.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men ultimately fell short against the mighty Cristiano Ronaldo and co. for a whole number of defining reasons. Yet whilst the task of succeeding among the Champions League final will forever remain far easier said than done, it seems as if the widely admired Serie A giants were missing a certain something out there, a certain something that may have been easily rectified with one very specific change in personnel…
Enter the fray: Claudio Marchisio. Il Principino. The Little Prince. One could argue that it doesn’t exactly take much to get noticed among the top flight of the modern game these days, with the ever impending desire to uncover the ‘next big thing’ out there, but in the case of Juventus’ 31-year-old box-to-box midfield enforcer, such an evaluation doesn’t quite ring true.
“Becoming a Juventus icon has always been my dream. You achieve that status not for how long you stay at a club but for how much you give when you are there.”
Throughout most of his top flight footballing career, Claudio Marchisio has been consistently underestimated, vastly overlooked and criminally undervalued. He has been forced to go about his business largely behind the spotlight of his fellow midfield counterparts, both within the confines of Turin and among the Italian national setup.
After first emerging as a solid, dependable regular for The Old Lady on the back of Juventus’ relegation to Serie B following the Calciopoli scandal, Il Principino genuinely developed into one of the most significant components currently operating for the Italian giants.
Via his stark composure when finding players inside the final third, clear desire to strike the ball cleanly from just outside the box, as well as simply possessing a well-defined intelligence when working his magic all across the pitch for Juventus – this is one player who rarely serves to disappoint when fully fit and firing.
Fans of the Three Lions know all too well about Claudio Marchisio’s ability to find the back of the net from his well-taken effort against England among the 2014 World Cup, but it is for a variety of other – perhaps less show-stopping and incredible qualities, that The Little Prince arguably shines the most.
When it comes to keeping possession ticking over comfortably and making the right decisions time and time again, it’s difficult to see why such a player has never been more widely celebrated in the face of his competitors.
Maybe it’s because Marchisio completes all the simple tasks that would otherwise go largely unnoticed. Perhaps the 31-year-old Italian international has struggled to stand out due to the noticeable lack of unnecessary flamboyance within his overall game, and the fact that he doesn’t exactly shine as a standalone ‘YouTube footballer’, with more hits to his name than successfully completed passes out on the pitch.
In reality, this is a player who rarely offers less than a seven-out-of-ten individual performance each and every time he steps out onto the field. Many Serie A onlookers had assumed that Juventus were willing to part ways with their most influential midfield force when Paul Pogba eventually headed back to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016, but for those who enjoy watching the alluring Old Lady on more than just the odd occasion, the continued presence of Il Principino was arguably a far greater victory for the Italians in the long-run.
From the immaculate likes of Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved and Michel Platini, to the ongoing stream of recent favourites such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and the aforementioned £90 million rated Paul Pogba – Juventus have always been blessed within their imperious midfield department.
Yet had they not been able to call upon the continued no nonsense reliability of players such as Claudio Marchisio throughout the years, who allow their fellow star performers to consistently shine ahead of them, the notorious Old Lady would fail to command the same level of appreciation and respect that we readily see today.
“I’m a Juve player but I’m also a fan of this club. I haven’t forgotten that each and every single victory is the fruit of great sacrifice and is as a result of taking nothing for granted.”
Style, grace, elegance and panache are just some of the words commonly associated with the all-action box-to-box midfielder – but without the inflated social media presence, an entertaining soundbite interview technique, or an unnecessarily complicated array of ever-evolving hairstyles – it seems as if The Little Prince is forever destined to be largely overlooked within the world of top-flight modern day football.