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Posts Tagged ‘italy’

Rain in Rome lets Juve extend lead

Italian champions Juventus were able to extend their lead at the top of Serie A to nine points over the weekend with a 3-1 win against rivals Internazionale at the Juventus Stadium in Turin. A goal from Swiss wide man Stephan Lichtsteiner on the quarter of an hour mark gave Juve a half time lead and they doubled their advantage just after the break when defender Giorgio Chiellini found the net. Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal sealed the victory with more than half an hour left to play before Portuguese defender Rolando notched up a consolatory strike for Inter, who are now without a win in six outings since their Derby victory against Milan back in December.

Second placed AS Roma were unable to keep up the pressure on Juventus at the top of the table due to the wet weather in the Italian capital. Their match with Parma did get under way but a heavy downpour forced it to be abandoned so Roma now have a game in hand on the other clubs around them in the table. They didn’t have to worry about anyone catching them up from behind as third placed Napoli were well beaten by Atalanta in Bergamo and fourth placed Fiorentina fell to a 1-0 defeat at Cagliari. The big movers were Verona, whose 2-1 win away at Sassuolo allowed them to jump up three places to fifth. On Monday night Sampdoria ran out winners in the Genoa derby, beating their neighbours 1-0 with a first half goal from Argentine striker Maxi Lopez.

Penalty Redemption Earns Prandelli’s Players Podium Place

Italy 2 (Astori 24, Diamanti 73)
Uruguay 2 (Cavani 58, 78)
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador. Temp. 28°C, wind 8 mph, scattered clouds. Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)

TEAMS

Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, Astori (Bonucci 96), De Sciglio, De Rossi (Aquilani 70), Montolivo, Maggio, Candreva, Gilardino, Diamanti (Giaccherini 83), El Shaarawy.
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Pereira M (Pereira A 81), Caceres, Godin, Rodriguez (Gonzalez 56), Gargano, Arevalo (Perez 107), Suarez, Forlan, Cavani.

Cesare Prandelli’s Italy team bounced back from the heartbreak of their penalty shoot out semi final defeat to Spain on Thursday night to beat Uruguay by the same method and secure the consolation of third place at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Instead it’s the Uruguayans who are now cursing their luck from twelve yards as failure from that distance has now cost them dear in successive matches following Diego Forlan’s failed spot kick in their semi final against Brazil. The same player missed Uruguay’s first effort in the shoot out in Salvador to put the Italians in the ascendancy and the Azzurri scored three of their four kicks to win 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Italy looked the stronger of the two teams, despite having had a day’s less rest than Uruguay following the semi finals and their 120 minutes of attrition in the heat against Spain. They took the lead in the twenty fourth minute when a Diamanti free-kick from the right hit the far post and rolled back along the goal line to the opportunistic Cagliari defender Davide Astori who reacted first to tap it into the net. The eagerly anticipated new goal line technology hadn’t been needed thus far in the tournament so FIFA took the opportunity to use it to show that the ball hadn’t crossed the line before Astori touched it, this proving that it was his goal rather than Diamanti’s.

The Italians held onto their lead until thirteen minutes into the second half when Napoli’s Edinson Cavani beat Gianluigi Buffon with a curling shot to make it one apiece. Uruguay enjoyed their best period of the game but they were undone by another free-kick from Alessandro Diamanti. This time the Bologna striker didn’t need help from anyone as his seventy third minute shot flew straight past Muslera int he Uruguay goal to make it 2-1. Cavani responded with a free kick of his own five minutes later to notch up his second goal in the game and third of the tournament, making it 2-2 and forcing extra time.

Everyone expected the effects of tiredness to set in for the Italians as the game wore on, especially when they were reduced to ten men by Riccardo Montolivo’s dismissal in the 110th minute but they dug in and withstood the pressure from Suarez, Cavani, Forlan and co. Buffon was the hero in the subsequent shoot out, saving from Forlan, Caceres and Gargano as Aquilani, El Shaarawy and Giaccherini scored for Italy to wrap things up despite Mattia De Sciglio missing their third kick. All in all, Italy look in decent shape for next summer but they will have to tighten up their defence and hope that Marion Balotelli stays fit if they are to win back the World Cup. Uruguay have an ageing group of players that may still be able to produce the goods in twelve months time but they definitely need to think about rejuvenating the side in some areas. Firstly it’s back to the business of actually securing their qualification for the finals for both teams.

Related Links:
Football in Italy
Football in Uruguay
Confederations Cup 2013

Confederations Cup: Brazil 4-2 Italy

Brazil 4 (Dante 45+1, Neymar 55, Fred 66, 89)
Italy 2 (Giaccherini 51, Chiellini 71)
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador. Temp. 27°C, wind 6 mph, scattered clouds. Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)

TEAMS

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz (Dante 34), Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Hernanes, Oscar, Fred, Hulk (Fernando 76), Neymar (Bernard 69).
Italy: Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini, Abate (Maggio 30), De Sciglio, Aquilani, Montolivo (Giaccherini 26), Marchisio, Candreva, Diamanti (El Shaarawy 72), Balotelli.

Brazil beat Italy 4-2 in an exciting final Group A game in Salvador to secure first place in the group, meaning that Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team will probably now avoid Spain in the semi finals. It was a scrappy first half, but the goals started to flow in the second period as both teams went for the win and Brazil eventually got the better of their opponents thanks to some fine attacking play and party due to some uncharacteristic sloppy goalkeeping from Gianluigi Buffon.

The first half was a scrappy stop-start affair littered with mistimed tackles in which there were four bookings and three players were forced off injured. Neither team managed to settle into their rhythm and there were no goals until stoppage time when a free kick from the Brazilian left found its way through to substitute Dante, who slotted home from beyond the far post. Dante, who had replaced the injured David Luiz just after the half hour mark, recorded his first goal for his country and it was a popular strike with the locals in the stadium as he hails from Salvador.

Italy found their way back into the game with a classic route one goal in the sixth minute of the second half when Buffon hit a long clearance upfield. It was headed on to Balotelli, who flicked it into space behind the Brazilian backline with an impudent backheel which set substitute Giaccherini free down the right. He took the ball into the box and made no mistake with a driven shot into the far side of the net before the covering defenders could get back to close him down.

However, Italy were only on level terms for four minutes as Neymar won and scored a free kick to keep up his record of having scored in every game so far in this tournament. It was a bit harsh on Italy as the striker appeared to run into Maggio’s leg rather than being tripped, but the free kick was struck spectacularly in to the far corner past a static Buffon, who ought to have done better. Italy came close with a free kick of their own from Balotelli, who shot powerfully towards the top corner from way out, but Julio Cesar was equal to it and a few minutes later Brazil broke to make it 3-1 through Fred.

There was much controversy surrounding Italy’s second of the game in the seventy first minute when Chiellini scored following Candreva’s corner. The referee blew for an apparent penalty for a foul on Balotelli at the same time as Chiellini hit his shot towards the far post but when the ball ended up in the back of the net, the Uzbek official changed his mind and awarded the goal rather than the spot kick. There hadn’t really been enough time between the whistle and goal for anyone to react and stop playing, but by the letter of the law it should have been a penalty to the Italians and protesting Brazilian players surrounded the referee, but in vain.

Italy came close to levelling the score with ten minutes remaining when Maggio got his head on the end of another Candreva corner from the right and sent the ball crashing into the crossbar with Julio Cesar well beaten. Having survived that scare, Brazil saw out the last few minutes and wrapped it up at the death when left back Marcelo broke through and tested Buffon with a low shot to the near post that the ageing goalkeeper could only push back into the path of the advancing Fred, who made no mistake with a simple tap in.

Related Links:
Football in Brazil
Football in Italy
Confederations Cup 2013

Confederations Cup: Italy 4-3 Japan

Italy 4 (De Rossi 41, Uchida o.g. 50, Balotelli pen. 52, Giovinco 86)
Japan 3
(Honda pen. 21, Kagawa 33, Okazaki 69)
Arena Pernambuco, Recife. Temp. 23°C, wind 2 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Diego Abal (Argentina)

TEAMS

Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Aquilani (Giovinco 30), Montolivo, Maggio (Abate 59), Giaccherini (Marchisio 68), Balotelli.
Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Uchida (Sakai H. 73), Yoshida, Nagatomo, Endo, Hasebe (Nakamura 90+1), Okazaki, Honda, Maeda (Havenaar 79), Kagawa.

It was a topsy turvy game between Italy and Japan in front of over forty thousand fans in Recife with Japan forging ahead before Italy pegged them back and took a lead of their own only for Japan to strike back and just when it looked set to end all square the Italians grabbed a dramatic late winner. The result puts Italy into the semi finals along with hosts Brazil and eliminates the Japanese as well as Mexico.

Japan were handed the chance to take the lead in the twentieth minute Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon brought down Shinji Okazaki inside the box. Buffon escaped with a yellow card, but he wasn’t able to save the resulting penalty from CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda. Manchester United’s midfield maestro Shinji Kagawa doubled the lead some thirteen minutes later with a well executed left-foot volley from the edge of the box to leave the Italians up against it. However, they got themselves into the game shortly before half time through a set piece. Andrea Pirlo’s corner was converted by Daniele De Rossi with a powerful header.

Italy started the second half strongly and turned the game around with two goals in as many minutes. Firstly Atsuto Uchida put through his own net when failing to deal with a cross from Giaccherini and then Italy won a penalty of their own when Makoto Hasebe handled inside the area. Mario Balotelli once again showed his reliability from the spot in sending the goalkeeper the wrong way for his second goal of the tournament and to complete the turn around by giving Italy a 3-2 lead.

The game then quietened down for a while as Japan’s defence restored order following a tempestuous few minutes and they began to push forwards again in search of an equaliser. It eventually came in the sixty ninth minute when a free kick from Gamba Osaka’s Yasuhito Endo was headed in by Shinji Okazaki. Japan pushed hard for the winner in the final twenty minutes and went close on several occasions, hitting the woodwork twice as Italy started to rock once again, but in typical fashion it was the Italians who snatched the late winner against the run of play when Giovinco got on to the end of a cross from Marchisio to make it 4-3. There was still time for Japan to rally and they had a goal ruled out for offside in the final moments before the final whistle gave the relieved looking Italians their three points.

Six points from their opening two games puts Italy level with Brazil at the top of Group A so the only thing riding on their meeting in the final group game is who finishes in first and second place. Japan and Mexico are now both out of the competition with zero points from their opening games so their final match is now a dead rubber to decide who comes bottom of the group.

Related Links:
Italian Football
Japanese Football
Confederations Cup 2013

Confederations Cup: Italy 2-1 Mexico

Italy 2 (Pirlo 27, Balotelli 78)
Mexico 1
(Hernandez pen 34)
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 25°C, clear and calm. Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)

TEAMS

Mexico: Corona, Rodriguez, Moreno, Flores, Aquino (Mier 53), Guardado, Torrado, Salcido, Zavala (Jimenez 86), dos Santos, Hernandez.
Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, Abate, De Sciglio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo, Marchisio (Cerci 68), Giaccherini (Aquilani 88), Balotelli (Gilardino 86).

Italy got their 2013 Confederations Cup campaign off to a winning start at the Maracana, beating Mexico by two goals to one with Pirlo and Balotelli on the scoresheet and Javier Hernandez replying for the Mexicans. It was an entertaining game with plenty of chances at both ends as Mexico ended their recent hoodoo in front of goal but saw an end to their run of clean sheets.

Italy took the lead courtesy of a majestic free kick from veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo in the twenty seventh minute on the night of his one hundredth cap for his country. The strike was up there with some of the very best from his illustrious career and he left Mexican goalkeeper Corona with no chance as he curled it over the wall and in to the top left hand corner of the goal. Italy‘s lead didn’t last for long, however, as Barzagli clumsily gave away a penalty in the thirty fourth minute when he dallied in possession and allowed dos Santos to steal the ball before tripping the Mexican striker in the box. Barzagli was fortunate not to receive a red card from the Chilean referee. Javier Hernandez sent Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot to make it 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second forty five minutes and the officiating continued to be lenient as either side could have been reduced to ten men for some mistimed tackling. Italy always seemed the most likely to make the breakthrough and the golden chance finally fell to Mario Balotelli in the seventy eighth minute from a flick on by Giaccherini. The Milan forward was first to the ball amidst a cluster of defenders and smashed his finish past Corona to make it 2-1 to the Italians and earn three points that make them joint leaders with Brazil after the first round of matches in Group A.

 

Confederations Cup 2013: Team by Team Preview

The 2013 Confederations Cup kicks off in Brasilia on Saturday with a strong line up of teams competing in the World Cup dress rehearsal a year before the real thing takes place next summer. Most of them will expect to return for the 2014 World Cup – only Tahiti have been eliminated so far from the qualification process – so it’s a good chance for them to hone their preparations and get some valuable experience of the Brazilian conditions. Here’s our guide to the teams and how they will fare.


Team: Brazil
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Qualified as: Hosts

Last 5 results: Group A Fixtures:
Brazil 1-1 Russia (London, 25-03-2013, FR)
Bolivia 0-4 Brazil (Santa Cruz, 06-04-2013, FR)
Brazil 2-2 Chile (Belo Horizonte, 25-04-2013, FR)
Brazil 2-2 England (Rio de Janeiro, 02-06-2013, FR)
Brazil 3-0 France (Porto Alegre, 09-06-2013, FR)
Japan (Brasília, 15-06-2013)
Mexico (Fortaleza, 19-06-2013)
Italy (Salvador, 22-06-2013)

Star Player: Neymar. The Santos striker is the most exciting attacking talent in Brazilian football at the moment, but he still has a lot to prove, especially at international level. His goals record of 20 in 34 games for Brazil is impressive but, having made his debut just after the last World Cup, most of his national team experience has come in friendly matches. He did feature in the 2011 Copa America and 2012 Olympics, scoring in both tournaments, but wasn’t able to help his team to success on either occasion. It’s easy to forget that he’s still only 21 as he seems to have been in the headlines for years since he shot to prominence at a young age and led Santos to their Copa Libertadores triumph in 2011 and rarely a week has gone by in the past two years without rumours linking him with a big money move to Europe. New he’s finally heading to Barcelona to test himself in La Liga and he’ll want to leave his homeland on a high by impressing at the Confederations Cup before he starts his new adventure.

One to Watch: Oscar. The Chelsea midfielder has been playing an increasingly prominent role in the Brazil national team of late and now has seventeen caps and six goals to his name. Also only 21, he is coming into the tournament off the back of a successful first season in Europe where he excelled in the English Premier league and won the Europa league. His fleet footwork and incisive passing, not to mention his lethal shooting ability, make him an important supplier and scorer of goals and a successful Confedereations Cup campaign will go al long way towards staking his claim for a first team spot come next summer. Brazil could be building their team around him for years to come.

Prediction: We expect Brazil to rise to the occasion and put recent patchy form behind them by reaching the final of this event on their home soil. They have selected a strong and talented squad and will be treating the competition very seriously as it represents their only chance of competitive action in the build up to the World Cup finals. Home advantage should help them see off Japan and Mexico in their opening games and we expect them to win their group and reach the final, possibly against Spain, which would be a close encounter but they may just edge it. Read the rest of this entry »

Italy Squad for Confederations Cup 2013

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, 55, has named his 23 man squad for the upcoming 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Italy beat San Marino 4-0 on Friday night in Bologna with goals from Andrea Poli, Alberto Gilardino, Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Aquilani, but Poli was one of eight players from the original list of 31 who weren’t included in the final 23. The Azzurri have a big test before they fly out to Brazil as they face Czech Republic away in Prague in a World Cup qualifier this Friday (07-06-2013) ahead of their Confederations Cup campaign, which takes in matches against Mexico (16-06-2013) in Rio de Janeiro, Japan (19-06-2013) in Recife and Brazil (22-06-2013) in Salvador.

Prandelli’s squad contains players from ten different clubs, of which only one player is based outside Italy in Paris-Saint Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. There are eight players from Italian champions Juventus, five from Milan and two each from Bologna and Lazio with Cagliari, Fiorentina, Napoli, Roma and Torino supplying one each. The oldest and most capped player in the squad is goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon at 35 with 127 caps to his name and the top scorer is Alberto Gilardino with 18 goals. There were places for Milan youngsters Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy who are both only 20.

The Italy Confederations Cup squad in full is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain), Federico Marchetti (Lazio)

Defenders: Christian Maggio (Napoli), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Ignazio Abate (Milan)

Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna)

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Milan), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Alberto Gilardino (Bologna), Stephan El Shaarawy (Milan)

The Final Stretch – European season reaches its climax

With most of the major European leagues now wrapped up, attention in most countries is turning towards the upcoming spate of cup finals across the continent. In England the FA Cup final is, of course, already done and dusted with Wigan Athletic having sensationally beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley to win that venerable trophy for the first time in their history, and on Friday night in Madrid, Spain, Atletico stunned their neighbours Real Madrid in their own backyard at the Bernabeu to win the Copa del Rey. Atletico’s 2-1 extra time win was their first victory over Real in any competition for fourteen years.

The next ten days will see the cup winners decided in Scotland, Italy, Portugal, France and Germany, as well as the Champions League final and the English Championship Play-off final for a place in next season’s Premier League. This coming weekend is the big one, with five major finals over the extended Bank Holiday break (in the UK) for fans to enjoy and European club football’s showpiece event, the Champions League Final kicks it all off on Saturday night.

The Champions League Final – Saturday 25th May 2013, 19:45, Wembley Stadium, London

This year’s final is an all-German clash between Borussia Dortmund and strongly fancied Bayern Munich. Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern are the newly crowned Bundesliga champions, having dislodged Borussia from their perch, and have enjoyed perhaps the most spectacularly successful league season in their history. They won the Bundesliga at a canter by a massive twenty five points, scoring ninety eight goals in the process to end up with a staggering goal difference of plus eighty. They imperiously swept aside Barcelona in the semi finals 7-0 on aggregate to record the biggest semi final victory margin since 1960 and quite frankly they look unstoppable.

Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund have had an average season by their recent high standards and had to be content with a distant second spot having been champions two years running prior to this season. Their European form has been much better and they annihilated Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi final before holding on resolutely in the face at a late Real Madrid rally at the Bernabeu to book their spot at Wembley. Their success was dampened somewhat by the news that star man Mario Gotze will be jumping ship to Bayern this summer, putting a dent in their hopes of narrowing the gap next season, but they will be hopeful of a big performance on the night to create a small upset.

The two clubs have been regular opponents over the past twelve months with supremacy in head to head matches slowly shifting from Dortmund to the Bavarians. Dortmund had a crushing 5-2 win in the German Cup final last May but Bayern took their first chance for revenge in the Super Cup final in August, winning 2-1. The first league clash finished in a 1-1 stalemate in Munich in December but Bayern triumphed again, 1-0, in a cup quarter final in Munich in February and the return league fixture in Dortmund ended 1-1 earlier this month when the title was already sown up.

Read the rest of this entry »

Serie A: Juventus regain top spot

Unbeaten Juventus regained top spot in Serie A with a 3-1 win over Catania at the Juventus Arena in Turin. Antonio Conte’s side went behind to an early strike from one of Catania’s Argentinian contingent, Pablo Cesar Barrientos, but fought back well, with the peerless Andrea Pirlo bagging an equaliser in the 22nd minute. The stalemate endured until well into the second half but the turning point was when Catania were reduced to ten men following a second caution for defender Marco Motta.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle for the visitors from then on, and Pirlo’s probing eventually reaped dividends as the maestro set up both Giorgio Chiellini and Fabio Quagliarella to secure the three points for the Old Lady. Juventus are now two points clear of Milan, having played the same number of games, but could be knocked back off their perch on Sunday afternoon as the Rossoneri visit struggling Cesena.

World Cup 2010 Review: Italy

Along with the premature exit of France, the failure of the other finalists from the last World Cup, Italy, to make the second round was the major shock of the group stage in South Africa. The defending champions travelled to the tournaments with high hopes of retaining their trophy but their campaign ended in disaster on a hitherto unimaginable scale.

Many of the 2006 winners were included in Marcello Lippi’s Azzurri squad but the experience gained four years ago didn’t seem to count for much this time around. Their opening game against a strong Paraguay side was played in torrential rain in Cape Town and was a cagey affair with few chances in the early exchanges. These two traditionally defensive teams were always going to produce a tight game and chances were at a premium so it was a massive blow for the Italians to fall behind late on in the first half when they failed to mark their opponents properly at a free kick. Alcaraz found space in the box to head past Buffon and make it 1-0 to Paraguay at the interval. Buffon, struggling with a persistent back injury, couldn’t continue after the break and would play no further part in the tournament. He was replaced in goal by Federico Marchetti of Cagliari and, whilst the replacement keeper did well, Buffon’s reassuring presence at the back was definitely missed in their remaining games. Italy rallied well in the second half and eventually got their equaliser in the 63rd minute when the Paraguay ‘keeper mistimed his jump to catch a corner and the ball fell for De Rossi to poke it home from close range.

A draw against the South Americans in their toughest fixture on paper seemed like, and indeed was, a good start to the tournament and there was nothing to worry about in the Italian camp at this stage. However, their campaign started to unravel in the game against New Zealand when they only managed a draw despite being the better team and enjoying the lion’s share of the possession. They were stunned early on when New Zealand went ahead in the 7th minute with defending from a free kick again proving to be an uncharacteristic weakness for the Italians. However, television replays showed that the goal was offside and should have been disallowed. At the time everyone assumed that it would merely be a consolatory strike for the Kiwis, but it proved to be the goal that cost the Italians their place in the tournament and is another strong case in the argument for video replays to be used in the sport.

Italy quickly began to build up the pressure on their opponents and won a penalty in the 29th minute, which Iaquinta converted to equalise. However, the floodgates failed to open and Italy’s lack of creative players became telling as the came wore on. They brought on an extra forward at half time in Di Natale to support Iaquinta and introduced Pazzini just after the hour mark but couldn’t find a way past the New Zealand defence to break the deadlock. It finished in a second successive 1-1 draw and left Italy needing to beat a thus far uninspiring Slovakia side to guarantee their progress in the competition.

Italy versus Slovakia turned out to be one of the games of the tournament and the last twenty minutes were as action packed as any you will see in international football as both teams played for their survival. The Slovaks drew first blood in the 25th minute when they capitalised on a sloppy pass from De Rossi to feed Robert Vittek who made no mistake with the finish. That was about it for first half action but the second period was much more open as both teams went on the attack. Italy were denied an equaliser by the narrowest of margins when Skrtel cleared a Quagliarella shot off the line with his knee and in the 73rd minute they went two down when Chiellini was beaten to the ball by Vittek at the near post after Italy failed to adequately clear a corner. Di Natale gave the Azzurri some hope when he reduced the deficit in the 81st minute and the Italians though they had equalised moments later but Quagliarella’s strike was deemed offside. Italy’s defence was caught napping yet again in the final minute of regulation time when they were beaten by a throw in over the top for Kopunek to nip in and lob Marchetti. There was still time for Quagliarella to finally score with a fantastic long range effort and a goalless draw in the other group game meant that 3-3 here would have been enough for the Azzurri but they weren’t able to find that vital equaliser.

Bottom place in the group with only two points and five goals conceded in three games is an embarrassing way to relinquish your hold on the World Cup trophy, and whilst the Italians will rightly bemoan the offside goal by New Zealand, the main problems lie with their own abysmal defending and lack of creativity. The statistic of five goals conceded from only six shots on target doesn’t say much for the standard of their goalkeeping, but careless defensive lapses were just as much to blame and there was nobody at the other end capable of unlocking defences. Marcello Lippi leaves his job with the satisfaction of having won the trophy four years ago and he’ll hope that the memories of Berlin will soon blot out any recollection of the performances in South Africa.

The Italian squad submitted to FIFA was as follows:

NUMBER – POSITION – NAME – AGE- CLUB

1 – GK – Gianluigi BUFFON – 32 – Juventus
12 – GK – Federico MARCHETTI – 27 – Cagliari
14 – GK – Morgan DE SANCTIS – 33 – Napoli
2 – DF – Christian MAGGIO – 28 – Napoli
3 – DF – Domenico CRISCITO – 23 – Genoa
4 – DF – Giorgio CHIELLINI – 25 – Juventus
5 – DF – Fabio CANNAVARO – 36 – Juventus
13 – DF – Salvatore BOCCHETTI – 23 – Genoa
19 – DF – Gianluca ZAMBROTTA – 33 – AC Milan
23 – DF – Leonardo BONUCCI – 23 – Bari
6 – MF – Daniele DE ROSSI – 26 – AS Roma
7 – MF – Simone PEPE – 26 – Udinese
8 – MF – Gennaro GATTUSO – 32 – AC Milan
15 – MF – Claudio MARCHISIO – 24 – Juventus
16 – MF – Mauro CAMORANESI – 33 – Juventus
17 – MF – Angelo PALOMBO – 28 – Sampdoria
21 – MF – Andrea PIRLO – 31 – AC Milan
22 – MF – Riccardo MONTOLIVO – 25 – Fiorentina
9 – FW – Vincenzo IAQUINTA – 30 – Juventus
10 – FW – Antonio DI NATALE – 32 – Udinese
11 – FW – Alberto GILARDINO – 27 – Fiorentina
18 – FW – Fabio QUAGLIARELLA – 27 – Napoli
20 – FW – Giampaolo PAZZINI – 25 – Sampdoria

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