Euro 2020: Chiellini, Bonucci and the Art of Defense
Barzagli, of course, is in a better position than most to analyze their relationship. Until recently, Bonucci and Chiellini were not a pair, but were part of a trio, both for Juventus and Italy: Barzagli completed it, until he retired from ‘first international competition in 2018, then withdraws completely a few months later.
Everyone in this triumvirate had their own role. According to Chiellini’s estimate, he was the “aggressive”, Bonucci was the “metronome” and Barzagli the “teacher”. “He’s always in the right place at the right time,” Chiellini said.
For Bonucci, Barzagli was “the example”. “Andrea is unbeatable one-on-one,” he said.
Barzagli’s interpretation goes in the same direction. “Giorgio is the type of defender who needs to feel the touch,” he said. “He uses his intelligence but also his physical strength to deprive a player of space. This type of defense is increasingly rare now. It has changed a lot in recent years. I do not mean to say that he is one of the last great Italian defenders, but he is in this tradition.
Bonucci, on the other hand, is “more modern,” said Barzagli, better at “reading the game, understanding situations”, the kind of player that Pep Guardiola, the high priest of modern defense style, described as “l one of his all-time favorites. Matthijs de Ligt, the Dutch defender who is Barzagli’s heir at Juventus, admires his “vision, the precision of his long and short passes”. He sees something else in Chiellini. “Looks like he’s got a magnet in his head,” de Ligt said.
Barzagli has yet to decide where he will watch the final on Sunday. Nerves have never troubled him as a player; watching games as a spectator, he found, is a bit more stressful. “It’s because there is nothing you can do,” he said. He might choose to look into the sanctuary of his own home, rather than with other people, to help him cope better.
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