Over the last seven years, we've seen Claudio Marchisio grow up right in front of our eyes. It might not have been like a small child go from pre-school to adulthood, but it's close. Marchisio has gone from Juventus youth academy and primavera standout for his hometown club to a vice-captain at Juventus before the age of 30.
All of this while people have yammered as to just how good of a player Marchisio really is.
Call them the Marchisio Debates, if you want. Call them stupid if you want, too. The discussion as to how good of a player Marchisio really is will go on for as long as he plays the game in all likelihood. Some people consider him overrated and nothing special, others consider him underappreciated and a key play for club and country. This is the conundrum that accompanies Marchisio wherever he goes no matter how well he is playing at the time.
But at the same time, Marchisio has become an important piece to the puzzle for Juventus over the course of the past five years. And that's even more the case in Antonio Conte's first two years as manager in Turin. Obviously Paul Pogba's burst onto the scene has cut into Il Principino's playing time, but you won't see Conte saying anything bad about the player who wears the same number the Juve manager used to.
That's mainly because Marchisio is good at what he does — with or without the Marchisio Debates.
Caps: 44, Goals: 3
Service for Italy: Ever since making his debut with the senior squad in August 2009, Marchisio has been a mainstay in the Italian national team setup. Since then, He hasn't always played in his preferred and normal central midfield role, but it wouldn't be a discussion about Marchisio without something about being played out of position. Marchisio was part of Italy's doomed 2010 title defense in South Africa and then started every game in Gli Azzurri's run to the final at EURO 2012.
What makes him interesting: It's well-documented about how a lot of Marchisio's game involves things that stats-based websites and evaluators aren't always going to pick up. And it's true that a lot of what Marchisio does won't go appreciated unless you really have a camera fixated during the course of a match. That's just reality of it. But Marchisio is likely to be one of the most tactically-intelligent players we've seen wear the Juventus and Azzurri jerseys in quite some time.
Oh, and he can work a Dolce & Gabbana suit with the best of them. Could be worse, I guess.
What to expect in Brazil: Depending on what you read, Marchisio could be a starter in what is expected to be some sort of three-man central midfield. Depending on what you read, Marchisio could also be a starter alongside or opposite Antonio Candreva as an attacking midfielder behind lone striker Mario Balotelli. So, basically what we're saying here is that there's going to be another chapter written in the ongoing story of "How Claudio Marchisio Is Played Out of Position" that will be released in the near future.
What we do know is this: Marchisio ended the season in good form — a pleasant development considering how his first few months of the campaign started. And the hope is that Marchisio, no matter what position he is deployed in by Prandelli, is able to keep that good form going on the biggest of stages.