Just as a prince inherits the king's throne, Marco Verratti is the heir to Andrea Pirlo's creative role for the Azzurri. Both the king and the prince's World Cup is over as Italy lost to Uruguay in a match where a point would have sealed their round of sixteen passage.
In a match where Pirlo pulled the strings and Verratti showed glimpses of why he is set to succeed the 35 year old, the castle of glass that was the Italian national team cracked in the second half when Verratti's compatriot Claudio Marchisio saw red for a studs-up challenge on Egidio Arevalo. Italy never recovered having lost a man and were made to pay when Uruguay's Diego Godin ended their World Cup with a late headed goal in the second half from a corner.
Losing to Uruguay makes it consecutive World Cups that Italy have bowed out in the group stages, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them in young Marco Verratti. The Paris Saint Germain midfielder was among the best on the field in their opener against England. He was sharp and aware on the ball, and linked up great with his teammates. England had no answer for him as he was dragging defenders away with his smart runs and inventive passing. Against Costa Rica Italy lacked the energy Marco Verratti offers, as his young dynamic approach was needed when the Italians suffered a shock loss to the South Americans. Verratti against Urugauy was an epicentre of confidence, having skipped away from challenges and playing clever passes. Verratti though was injured in the second half and towards the end his creativity was missed as his teammates searched for an equaliser.
Verratti is a representation of the new generation of Italians ready to bring them back to glory. Along with him include AC Milan's trio of Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy Mattia Di Sciglio, Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Berardi. All have shone for their clubs over the past few seasons and look to be the new breed of Italian footballers; fast, agile and confident. By the Euro 2016 and World Cup in four years, these special six of the many young Italians should be in their prime and hopefully be built into a team where they can shine, and remind the world that Italians are still among the best.
Pirlo has been a loyal servant to the Italian national team for many years, and will leave a void in the midfield. Verratti though has shown the potential he has in the Italian team, having played alongside the man he looks to replace and has looked equal next to the living legend. He, with the new generation of Italian footballers, should refresh this tired Italian team, and can take the world by storm in the upcoming years.