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How Italy Will Beat Slovakia

June 21, 2010 - Centurion (South Africa, South Africa - epa02214619 (L-R) Goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis, head coach Marcello Lippi and forward Giampaolo Pazzini smile during a training session of Italian national soccer team on the camp of the Southdowns College in Centurion, South Africa, on 21 June 2010. Italy will face Slovakia in the FIFA 2010 World Cup group F soccer match on 24 June.

Despite Italy’s lackluster performance in their first two group stage matches, the Azzurri have the chance to advance into the next round of the World Cup with a win or a tie plus help.  Some excellent analyses of the Italian team’s weaknesses have been published over the last few days, and the negatives about this Italian team have seemingly come true (too old, not enough play makers, etc.).  The squad faces the forked road that some European powers have already faced, with one path leading to redemption (England) and another leading to disgrace and finger-pointing (France).

So, how can Italy win its first international match in 2010?  Here are three ways Marcello Lippi can tip the outcome:

  1. Start Leonardo Bonucci over Cannavaro: Yes, Cannavaro is the captain, has won a World Cup, and was one of the world’s best defenders at one time.  But in a win-or-go-home match, you need to put in the player that gives you the best chance to win.  Cannavaro is (directly or indirectly) responsible for both goals scored against Italy this World Cup.  His defending on New Zealand’s only goal was terrible, as he had a good opportunity to deny the ball but was a step too slow.   Bonucci lacks Cannavaro’s World Cup experience but does have one thing most of the squad lacks – a goal in international competition.  He scored off a rebound in the Mexico friendly, and has showed the type of finishing off set pieces that has been a weakness of this team so far.  His presence enhances the defending and scoring in set pieces, which the team needs more than experience.
  2. Start Antonio Di Natale instead of Alberto Gilardino:  Di Natale’s presence in the New Zealand match made an immediate difference.  While he did not score, he had some quality shots and had the best chances to score in the second half.  Starting him would allow him to get into a groove throughout the match instead of trying to be an immediate threat off the bench, which has not worked to this point.  And while I suggest Gilardino sit, any of the Azzurri strikers could be inserted here, as the offense has been stagnant.
  3. Start Andrea Pirlo and sub Montolivo for him at halftime:  Marcello Lippi has said Pirlo will be available off the bench due to injury, but if he is healthy enough to come off the bench Lippi should consider starting him.  He is the best spark plug for the offense, and if the Italians score quickly and take a lead into halftime, Montolivo can finish the match in his place.  Could this backfire and potentially aggravate Pirlo’s injury, taking him out of the entire World Cup?  Yes, but you need a positive result in this match before you can worry about future ones.

What do you think are the keys to the match?  Share below or on Twitter at @roberthayjr.

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  1. me

    June 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    ..okay..HOW..??..hheheheheheheeee..looosers, looosers..:p..

  2. Robert

    June 24, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I agree with you gentlemen (even you football betting), and I also want to see Montolivo succeed. I think he is talented enough to be a world class midfielder, and he should definitely play today. I also think he would be a good option off the bench, as I would expect Pirlo to play only a half today at most if he started (which I acknowledge has an almost nil chance).

    This roster simply needs a shake-up, similar to what England did in their match against Slovenia. Try some different things, and a good thing will happen.

    • Rami S.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      I think Buffon made a good point (Italy no longer have Totti or Del Piero) and Lippi was gracious to accept full responsibility and admit he made some mistakes.

      Italy’s main problem was the lack of urgency in all 3 games and the slow movement of the ball and even when without the ball the Azzurri players were simply walking around against Slovakia at 0-1 down.

      Very disappointing performance except for last 15 minutes but Italy did not deserve to go through. Quagi was the only spark for the Azzurri in the tournament. He scored once, had a shot cleared on the line, had a goal disallowed for offside and had a hand in Di Natale’s goal.

  3. Rami S.

    June 24, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Hi Robert,

    I’ve said time and again it would be best for Italy to bench Cannavaro yet this will not happen under Lippi.

    The other point is valid but I think Lippi will play Di Natale instead of Pepe. It seems Pepe was unhappy about his substitution against New Zealand while Lippi claimed the player did not follow his instructions.

    I’d prefer if Gilardino is on the bench but at this point starting Di Natale could provide a small spark. Finally, Pirlo will not be starting but if he will insert him as a surprise, I’d rather he replaced Marchisio while Montolivo is kept in the lineup. Montolivo has shown signs of improvement and can cause a threat with his long-range shooting.

  4. football betting

    June 24, 2010 at 1:23 am

    By the way things are going, they may not qualify lol

  5. Niccolo Conte

    June 24, 2010 at 1:06 am


    Totally agree with you on the first two points, but I would like to see Montolivo have one more chance from the start. I know he hasn’t performed well in first halves, but maybe just maybe he could turn it on and score a long range goal or something.

    You’re probably right about it though, I just really want to see Montolivo shine…

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