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Italy draw against Swiss in final friendly

Italy's Fabio Quagliarella heads over Switzerland's Philippe Senderos to score the equalizer during their friendly soccer match in Geneva

Italy have just concluded their final friendly before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and it seems like the Azzurri have been asleep for these friendlies. While a 1-1 draw is certainly better than the 2-1 loss they suffered to Mexico, the current World Cup champions seem pretty ordinary before the tournament kicks off.

The game started and became very quickly an uphill battle for Italy, it was the Udinese man Gokhan Inler who started the scoring in the 10th minute. The Swiss man rifled a shot from 25-yards out into the bottom right corner giving Marchetti no chance. It took Italy just four minutes to equalize with Montolivo crossing the ball in for Quagliarella to header in with his second attempt. The rest of the game was fairly equal, but Switzerland had the better chances, Chiellini had  great last-ditch tackle, and Marchetti had to save a couple of long-range missiles sent his way. In the end, Italy were unable to get a win against Switzerland, the current world champions unable to defeat the 24th ranked team in the FIFA rankings. This troubles me just a little bit.

While some may point to the strange statistic that in 1982 and in 2006, Italy drew 1-1 with Switzerland before winning the World Cup both of those years, I point to the fact that Italy are having serious trouble. Serious trouble in defensive solidity, attacking creativity, creating chances, scoring goals, and in the end, winning games.

Here are some statistics that should worry you about the Azzurri’s chances in the 2010 World Cup:

  • Out of their last 5 friendly matches, Italy have only won one.
  • In their last 5 friendlies, Italy have conceded 3 goals, and have only scored 3.
  • And in these last 5 friendlies, only one of these teams (the Netherlands) are above them in the FIFA rankings, all the rest are at least 12 positions below them.

In my opinion, these three statistics are very unsettling. How can a team which won the last World Cup be playing so badly and without direction? It seems like it might have to do with Lippi’s squad selection although the man that was controversially included (Quagliarella) scored Italy’s only goal this game. What do you think? Be sure to share your thoughts by commenting below.

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  1. Niccolo Conte

    June 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I think that as soccer fans, we live so much in the now and a week later things will change completely. Therefore I’m not surprised that opinions have changed, especially with this strange squad that Lippi has picked.

    But you also have to notice, in the 2006 World Cup, Italy were not the powerhouses, and they weren’t touted as possibles to win it. So we could see a decent run…

    • Rami S.

      June 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

      In World Cup 2006, the Azzurri were definitely not even considered as candidates to go beyond the Quarter-Finals!

      The only difference now is Cannavaro, Zambrotta & Gattuso are all older, slower and not as good. With Pirlo injured, the team’s core is really no longer the same. Luckily for Italy there’s Buffon and then Chiellini (if 100%) and De Rossi. Those 3 might form the new core.

      Only problem again is something you rightfully pointed out to Niccolo: No creative force in attack and there’s a clear lack of goals! I think Paraguay game will tell a lot about Italy’s preparations.

  2. Rami S.

    June 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Niccolo & Robert,

    I had to look back at some of the previous pieces written on Azzurri & WC 2010 and I think those are 2 other related topics:

    What I noted in the article which I wrote (the first one) was high number of votes for Italy to reach semi-final, final & repeat as Champion. Will be interesting how the votes will change after the injuries and unimpressive friendlies.

  3. Robert

    June 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I think Pirlo’s injury, if it’s long term, could really highlight the lack of ability to score. He could probably create chances where there are none.

    Lippi should be so thankful to FIFA for this draw – even poor outings in every group stage match should net the Italians enough points to finish first and advance. They would then face Cameroon or Denmark as the 2E, so they could conceivably advance to the quarterfinals based on schedule, although I don’t underestimate those teams.

    • Rami S.

      June 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm


      I agree with what you said about the ease of the group matches. No disrespect to Paraguay, New Zealand or Slovakia. Each can provide a surprise and the Azzurri often struggle against weaker sides or when the opponents are unfancied. I still see Italy through the group stage and then beyond Round of 16 but will lose in QFs.

      I originally had Italy in the Semis to finish 3rd but after the team selections and exclusion of G. Rossi (before that not even including Totti) I feel Azzurri cannot score much from set-pieces. In WC 2006, Pirlo was also critical from set-pieces with his corners and free-kicks. Those were very important.

      Pirlo is no longer the player he was but WC 2006 final should how effective his delivery can be. Three corners by Pirlo were met by Azzurri players inside France’s box and almost ended in goals: actually one was a goal, one was saved by Barthez, and one I believe skimmed the bar.

      I just cannot see Azzurri scoring from free-kicks and set pieces. Even now the penalty takers will not be first choice with their club except for Di Natale.

  4. Niccolo Conte

    June 7, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I have to agree with everything you just said Rami, it’s just blatantly apparent that Italy are old and defensive. I would’ve been happy with Totti in Gilardino’s place, just because Totti has that extra bit of creativity which scares defenders, and ultimately scores goals.

    thx for the comments!

    • Rami S.

      June 7, 2010 at 2:00 am

      Niccolo, I think you touched upon the most important problem for the Azzurri in your piece: once again the lack of goals.
      Yes, Totti would have made a difference even in 30 minutes. I am just surprised Lippi didn’t opt to pick him. Totti is also good at set-piece and Italy really has no specialist now. Gilardino, Pazzini, Di Natale, Iaquinta and even Quagi, Camoranesi, Pepe, Marchisio & the others are not known for the ability to score from free-kicks.
      Thanks for the exchanges.

  5. Rami S.

    June 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    The biggest problem is what you mentioned Niccolo: lack of goals! I have respect for Lippi after guiding Italy to triumph in Germany 2006 but for an experienced Coach like him to fail to acknowledge the attack’s inability to score is alarming.

    In the Confederations Cup, Italy were saved by G. Rossi who is not on the team and then even in the qualifiers the Azzurri owe Kaladze for his own goal double against Georgia before the Azzurri finally beat Bulgaria and scored two goals.

    I think excluding Casano or Totti was a mistake. Again, even 30 minutes of Totti would have been good. If one watches all the Azzurri games in WC 2006, you can see Totti was not influential as he was recovering from his injury and returning to fitness. He still was able to contribute and allowed Pirlo to roam free with less marking on him.

    And finally in WC 2006, the Azzurri had Del Piero who can come off the bench and he did score a good goal in the semi-final. Now the Italian bench is much weaker in terms of attacking talent. Who can change the game for Italy if they are trailing? No Cassano, No Totti, No G. Rossi, No Miccoli (he’s injured now anyways), No Balotelli…

    It will be tough but let’s hope the strikers can start scoring and Pirlo + Camoranesi return to fitness.

  6. bookmakers

    June 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Italy always looks awful right b4 the start

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