An Ode To The Prince Of Turin: Claudio Marchisio
“Pirlo, lovely dummy, opens up the shot for Marchisio.” These were the exact same words from the commentator when Antonio Candreva’s grounded corner pass was buried in the bottom left corner of Joe Hart’s goal from 25 yards by Claudio Marchisio, eventually ending English hopes in the FIFA World Cup of 2014. A goal that the English fans will never forget, but more importantly the person who scored it will always be loved and loathed by the Three Lions fans-Claudio Marchisio.
The classy campaigner decided to bid farewell to the sport at the age of 33 on Thursday and it’s an announcement that has been a bitter pill to swallow for admirers of the beautiful game around the world.
“It’s an important decision but a very difficult one. It was right to reveal it in a very special place. I decided to retire because I realised my body was no longer reacting as the head wanted.”
As the player who continuously kept working hard in the shadows of other more renowned players, Marchisio was a majestic midfielder. A hard-tackling versatile box-to-box playmaker, Marchisio was often deployed out wide as well as in the role a pivot in front of the Juventus backline even though his favoured position was playing in the centre. He was a right-footed, technically gifted playmaker who had vision for sublime passes. Also ferocious with his left foot, the Italian was known for being deadly from outside the box, a thing Joe Hart would probably know by now.
Born on January 19th, 1986 in Turin, Marchisio was a product of the Juventus youth system and remained in the youth ranks from 1993 to 2005. With his childhood hero being Alessandro Del Piero, Marchisio played as a forward and as a trequartista in the youth system. Fabio Capello called him to train with the senior squad, but at the time he did not get a chance to showcase his skills. He made the permanent switch to the senior side when the Bianconeri were relegated to Serie B due to Calciopoli scandal. Marchisio got his senior team debut on August 19th, 2006 in a Coppa Italia match against Martina. And from there on, he never looked back.
As he started to establish himself in Didier Deschamps’ side, he was sent on a loan to Empoli for the 2007-08 season. He got his Serie A debut against Fiorentina and debuted in the Champions League against FC Zurich. Marchisio enjoyed a promising campaign, making an overall of 26 appearances for the club throughout the season. After coming back from his loan spell, he started to fit well into the Juventus system and went on to also become a part of the Italian Summer Olympics team in 2008.
Marcelo Lippi handed him his senior Italy debut against Switzerland in a friendly match in 2009. Being a wonderful prospect, the only problem that always remained was the fact that he was injury prone. After a dismal showing from Juventus in 2010, Marchisio was one of the stand players of the squad and one of the few who escaped criticism from the press. Even after a dismal showing by Italy in the FIFA World Cup 2010, Marchisio remained the first choice for Juventus.
During the 2011-12 season at the Juventus stadium, Marchisio was given a mammoth task of partnering both Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo. Due to his understated yet eventual indispensable presence, Vidal had the license to roam forward and Pirlo had a stellar partnership with him in the centre. The high work rate of both Vidal and Marchisio also helped Pirlo to freely play as a playmaker as they covered his defensive susceptibility of his game.
Part of the Italian squad which finished as the runners up in UEFA Euro 2012, Marchisio formed a solid partnership with Daniele De Rossi in midfield.
After a solid display in Euro 2012, Marchisio was also a part of the Italian squad that won the Bronze Medal in FIFA Confederations Cup 2013. During the 2013-14 season for the club, the veteran was in competition for a place in the side with a young Frenchman, Paul Pogba. Due to injury, he missed most games of the season.
When World Cup 2014 ended up being a dismal tournament for the Azzurri, Marchisio emerged as the only bright light in national colors. Then the 2014-15 season arrived and his consistency was duly rewarded as it turned out to be a big one for him as Juventus reached the Champions League final, eventually ending up as runners up to the treble-winning Barcelona team.
Personally, Marchisio was excellent as ever and was selected in the Champions League squad of the season.
The 2015-16 season came as a big setback. Marchisio suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury which sidelined him and forced him to miss Euro 2016. He announced his international retirement in 2017 to make way for younger and more athletic players to take his place. However, there was no stopping the Vecchia Signora as next season was once again one to remember. However, Champions League glory deserted Italy’s finest as they were humbled by Real Madrid.
Marchisio was mostly a spectator however, who started most matches from the bench. The 2017-18 season was again plagued with several injuries and then the big announcement came. The Juventus faithful, Claudio Marchisio decided to leave the club with mutual consent after a spell of 25 years with Juventus. He ended his love affair with the club after 294 appearances and 33 goals for the club.
After joining Zenit Saint Petersburg on a 2-year contract in September 2018, Marchisio managed 9 appearances and 2 goals for the club before injury again ended his season early. In July 2019, again with mutual consent, he terminated his contract and left the Russian giants. During his time with the club he played in the UEFA Europa League as well as won the Russian Domestic League title.
A masterful player, whose career was plagued with a number was injuries, Claudio Marchisio was often compared to Juventus and Italian midfielder Marco Tardelli by the press because of the energy, tenacious style of play and a good reading of the game. One of Marchisio’s key strengths was the ability to switch from defence to offence seamlessly after winning back the ball, while remaining tactically disciplined in either role. He used to break down the opposition’s play and quickly transitioned the ball to his create chances for his comparatively attack-minded teammates through his vision, athleticism, tackling and a good range of passing. He was also gifted with flair, agility and excellent technique with the threat of shooting by both feet from outside of the box, which made him a complete player.
The Italian finished his career with 7 Serie A titles, 1 Serie B title, 3 Supercoppa Italiano, 4 Coppa Italia and a single Russian Championship. He managed to score a total of 44 goals and assisted 48 times during the time he played for both club and country. An irreplaceable talent of all sorts, Claudio Marchisio will always be remembered as the Prince of Turin by Juventus and the Italy faithful.