Spanish legend Luisito Suarez believes “Andrea Pirlo is a more complete player than Xavi” Hernandez as Italy prepare to face the Iberians tomorrow.
Euro 2012 Group C kicks off at 17.00 UK time on Sunday with the Azzurri having already landed in Gdansk.
“I have to point out first that Italy is my home, but my heart is Spanish,” Suarez told La Gazzetta dello Sport. The former Inter and Barcelona star won the Ballon d’Or in 1960.
“These are two champions with a great sense of positioning and know how to pick the right moment to start a move. They both have experience and technique.
“They are similar players, but in my view Pirlo has more of a range, can spread the play more and seek the longer passes.
“It’s true Xavi gets fewer passes wrong, but that’s because he plays them short and at most will pass 20 metres to the wings, so there are fewer risks. Andrea aims for more difficult passes and that brings with it the risk of getting it wrong sometimes.
“At the end of the day, I think Pirlo is a more complete player than Xavi. Andrea strokes the ball better, which is why he’s also better with free kicks and scores a few goals. He’s also more determined in the tackle, whereas Xavi is light and just uses his positioning to defend.
“If they were to exchange teams, they would both do well, but the Catalan seems built to play for Barcelona and Spain. The Italian is more adaptable and can speed up the pace of his teammates too. This is why I believe Pirlo is more important for Cesare Prandelli than Xavi is for Vicente Del Bosque,” concluded Suarez.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £11,000 to be won monthly!