Champions League Final: Berlin curtain call for pass-masters Xavi and Pirlo

Two of football's greats go head to head for the final time on Saturday, as Xavi's Barcelona take on Andrea Pirlo's Juventus in Berlin.

Fourteen league titles. Five Champions Leagues. Five domestic cups. Three Club World Cups. Two World Cups. Two European Championships.

Between them, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo have amassed quite the medal collection throughout their glorious careers.

Two of the finest footballers of their - or any - generation will go head to head for the last time on Saturday. It is fitting that they do so on the grandest stage club football has to offer, with Pirlo's Juventus meeting Xavi's Barcelona in the Champions League final.

For Xavi, the game in Berlin represents his last on European soil. The man who has defined the unparalleled success of both Barca and Spain over the last decade will play out the twilight of his career in Qatar. 

Pirlo's future is less clear. The bearded playmaker has another year left to run on his Juve contract, but has hinted that a move across the Atlantic to join former Milan team-mate Kaka in MLS could appeal. 

Both will be sorely missed, should Pirlo opt for America.

Beyond their vast medal hauls, perhaps the best way to define Xavi and Pirlo's impact on football is to listen to the testimonies of their peers.

For instance, Andres Iniesta - Xavi's footballing soulmate for club and country and a man not short of a few medals himself - said this week: "For me, the number one midfielder is Xavi. I have been fortunate to have him as a friend and companion all my life.

"As for Pirlo, his career and his impact are references for any player. The numbers speak for themselves and it will be nice to see the players face to face."

And the mutual respect and admiration between the two is also clear.

Speaking on Spanish television last September, Xavi gushed: "When I see Pirlo, I think he's wonderful. I watch Juventus just to see him." 

Pirlo, meanwhile, had his say earlier this week: "I've had the chance to play against him several times. Off the pitch he's a great man, and is a great champion on it." 

This weekend marks Pirlo's return to the scene of the zenith of his glittering career. It was Berlin's Olympiastadion where Italy won the World Cup in 2006.

He will start the game. He remains absolutely key to Juve, even at the age of 36.

"I hope Pirlo doesn't have too much influence on the game, because we all know what he's capable of doing," said Barca coach Luis Enrique. 

Xavi, one year Pirlo's junior, is unlikely to make it into Barca's starting XI, however.

Luis Enrique's shift to a more dynamic, direct style of play has seen him usurped by Ivan Rakitic in the heart of Barca's midfield.

It is unthinkable that Xavi - surely the best, most-decorated substitute in footballing history - will not appear at some point, though. 

And when he does, Pirlo will be waiting. The old pass-masters will do battle for one last time.

Savour it, for we may never see their like again.