The Azzurri have played their first match, and while some will view the 1-1 draw result as a bad thing, the match was actually filled with positives for Italy. Although we’ve seen Germany demolish Australia 4-0, I think that the Azzurri match was unique, it finally felt like I was watching a World Cup match. Both sides wanted the win, both sides wanted to score goals, and both sides eventually did.While Italy are known for being defensive, they Azzurri went out onto the field with the idea of scoring goals. It was refreshing compared to some of the matches that we’ve seen which were tight affairs in which both teams only defended. But onto the tactics which were part of Italy’s offensive style.
Marcello Lippi finally revealed his starting 11, he had Buffon in net with a back-line (from right to left) of Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, and Criscito. If front of them, De Rossi and Montolivo acted as holding midfielders, freeing up the remaining four players for offensive duties. It was Gilardino alone up front with Marchisio behind him, Pepe on the right, and Iaquinta on the left, completing a relatively attacking side.
Italy started the match a bit slowly, getting the feel of the ball and the pitch, possession was what they tried to keep from Paraguay who had the dangerous double of Barrios and Valdez. But while Italy seemed dominant, one main thing was worrying tactically, Gilardino, Marchisio, and Iaquinta were all very still, not moving and providing options. This left De Rossi and Montolivo with the workload of spreading the play without options up front, only aided by a constantly working Pepe, and a solid Zambrotta. Paraguay scored their goal with a very nice header from a free kick, and another worrying point tactically cropped up; Italy weren’t marking very well, they left men with too much space as they were disorganized in marking. So the first half gone, Italy had work to do in the second half.
Buffon was taken off right at the half, replaced by Marchetti, it seems like he might have a hamstring or lower back problem which was bothering him, and Italy fans will be worried without their number one. But it was a breath of fresh air when Marchisio was taken off, the Juventus player was immobile, useless, and plainly having a bad day as he was replaced by a more active Camoranesi later in the second half. Italy were more decisive, Montolivo began to get more used to his playmaking position as he spread balls around for more dangerous crossing opportunities.
Eventually the goal came, De Rossi’s tap in followed a goalkeeper mistake by Villar who completely misjudged the corner’s trajectory. Italy were tied and had plenty of time to win the match as they pressed on with dominant possession and even better plays from a dynamic Montolivo and a never-stopping Pepe. Sadly putting Di Natale on for Gilardino didn’t get the winner, but Italy were able to win an important point, in a match filled with positives.
I was truly expecting the worst in this match, but Lippi has revealed a much more fluid and offensive team than I thought he would. What do you think about this, be sure to share your thoughts below!