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Italy Eliminated with 3-2 loss

Italy's Fabio Cannavaro reacts after the 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against Slovakia at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

What should be considered a fair result; Slovakia were better, and Italy were poor, it’s just as simple as that. In the end Italy ends up right where they deserve to end up, the bottom of the table, behind New Zealand, Slovakia, and Paraguay. Italy has not played well throughout their three games, only turning it on in the final minutes after they’d gone down a goal. Italy’s elimination in the end, was because of Lippi’s selection for me, whether it be the 30-man squad, 23-man squad, or the starting 11, for me they were all poor selections.

Lippi decided to go with a 4-3-3, the same back-line as the past two games with Zambrotta on the right, Criscito on the left, and Cannavaro and Chiellini in the middle. Lippi went with a midfield of De Rossi, Montolivo, and Gattuso who were behind the trident of Di Natale, Pepe, and Iaquinta in the middle. While this formation looked a bit better than past ones, it still wasn’t enough to beat Slovakia.

The first half was terrible, Italy were terrible, and Slovakia were taking advantage of that. I had forgotten De Rossi was in the starting line-up because he never got near the ball, the forwards were inactive as their first touch let Italy down, and Gattuso, well he just did what he does best, get yellow cards. It was truly depressing, and when Vittek scored thanks to De Rossi’s inaccurate pass, it felt just about right.

While I hoped that Italy could turn it on, I knew it wouldn’t happen so early, it just doesn’t work that way with Italy, everything has to be dramatic. So they continued playing terribly, all throughout the first half until Vittek scored again. The defense didn’t anticipate and Marchetti was frozen which Vittek tapped in a cross to lower Italian spirits even further. Lippi put Maggio in for Criscito and moved Zambrotta to left-back, he also put on Quagliarella for a bit of inspiration in the place of Gattuso, sliding Pepe back into the midfield.

It wasn’t until the 81st minute that Italy scored, Quagliarella providing a bit of inspiration to take it past a man, play a one-two with Iaquinta so he could go one on one with Mucha. His shot was well saved by the Slovakian keeper and Di Natale followed up to score Italy’s first. Italy began to click, it was nice to see some hope in the Italian team, and when Quagliarella had a goal disallowed for offside, you could finally see some passion and fight in the team.

But in the 89th, the Italian defence fell asleep and Kopunek chipped Marchetti, it had to be over now. The score at 3-1 it felt like Italy’s fight was truly over, there was little to do about it until Quagliarella had a moment of brilliance. From outside the box, Fabio Quagliarella goes for what looks like at first a chipped through ball, but then is actually a long range chip which gets over Mucha and into the back of the net.

When Quagliarella and Iaquinta go to get the ball from the back of the net,  Mucha decides to cause a little bit of trouble. He starts grabbing at the ball himself and eventually some pushing, shoving, and a little bit of kicking ends up with Quagliarella on the ground holding his face. Mucha and the Slovakian defender should’ve received red cards for using physical force to stop Quagliarella from getting the ball back, but referee Howard Webb decided to only give a yellow to the Slovakian goal-keeper.

After this there was hope with the score at 3-2, almost the entire Italy team in Slovakia’s penalty box, every player hoping they could become a national hero by scoring a goal. It could’ve been Pepe, the ball came to him at the back post, but the Udinese winger hit the ball badly and sent the shot wide as the entire Italy bench were up on their feet in anticipation. In the meantime, almost all the Slovakian players were trying to waste time, throwing themselves on the ground, feigning injury, and rolling around in efforts to wind the clock down.

It eventually ended 3-2 for Slovakia, and what should’ve been a loss where we could criticize Lippi and his selections almost became a comeback where he could prove us wrong.  But what’s important is that he didn’t prove us wrong, and because of this Italy, the holders of the World Cup won’t progress out of the group stages. We saw a creative player like Quagliarella revitalize the team, imagine if he’d have taken Cassano or Balotelli…

Be sure to share your thoughts about the game below by commenting!

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Click to comment


  1. Niccolo

    June 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I really hope that Prandelli brings in a new crop of players for the Euro 2012’s, they gain experience from that, and then 2014 World Cup Italy can shine.

    • Rami S.

      June 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      It’s sad because Italy was in weakest group in WC. I think the other soft group was one with USA and England but Italy’s was weakest group yet Italy failed to advance.

      It’s quite stunning. If Italy played against NZ like it did in the last 15 minutes against Slovakia, then Azzurri would be in Round of 16 now.

  2. Robert

    June 25, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I’d agree with the analysis but want to emphasize a point – these players looked lethargic the entire World Cup. De Rossi’s pass was a grade school mistake – pure lack of concentration and effort. The players looked like a team that had won a World Cup and had nothing to prove.

    Does part of the blame for this fall on Lippi? Definitely. But such veteran players should be ashamed of their play. Maybe it was best the younger stars weren’t on this club so they wouldn’t have had the attitude rub off on them.

    • Rami S.

      June 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm


      I saw some similarities with the French except Les Bleus actually had a better squad than Italy except they were cursed with a coach much worse than Lippi.

      I agree with you Robert on the team’s play and even against Slovakia the players didn’t seem to be in any rush and there was no sense of urgency. Lippi at least took responsibility but he’s a wise tactician and good at motivating players, yet this time I feel he failed at both. Italy were going out 2-0 before Quagi started his show. It was purely an individualistic effort as opposed to any coaching plan or structured attack.

      Pirlo entering midfield also steadied the ship. Sadly, De Rossi plays like a lion for Roma but often appears lethargic for the Azzurri. If one looks at the starting lineup against Slovakia: Marchetti, Chiellini, Criscito, Montolivo, Quagi and Di Natale were all not in WC2006. That’s already 6 starters and then you have De Rossi who missed much of the WC2006 because of suspension while Iaquinta and Gilardino were bench 4 years ago. This leaves only Zambrotta and Cannavaro as starters from WC2006. Thus, there was change but not the proper form of change.

      I think Zambrotta and Quagi and then to a lesser extent Di Natale, Pepe and Chiellini exited the tournament with reputation intact. Chiellini was alone playing the defensive role as Cannavaro was often out of position. Of those 5 players, only Quagi and Chiellini should be kept while Zambrotta and Di Natale are too old and Pepe is more of a role or bench player than a starter.

      You are right these players should be ashamed of not just playing but of not honoring the Azzurri shirt.

  3. sharkguy

    June 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Old washed-up Cannavaro (although De Rossi gave away the first goal with a truly idiotic bit of passing)…old team…cyncically put together to be safe, instead of featuring younger, dynamic talent (like Germany). Terrible, terrible terrible accounting of himself by Iaquinta. Piss-poor midfield play by Gattuso and Camoranesi (as soon as Pirlo showed up, he showed that even while injured, he is a brilliant playmaker and worth these two idiots combined). Shoddy defending by Chiellini…shaky goalkeeping…timid, poor pacing…a creaky bunch of aging washouts….what a disgrace, especially after being handed the easiest group.

    • Niccolo Conte

      June 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      Sounds just about right…

      • Rami S.

        June 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

        That’s why a Buffon was needed. It doesn’t mean Italy would have gone through but a healthy Buffon would have been a good presence considering how bad Cannavaro was in 3 matches. It’s not that Cannavaro was horrible but the fact he was off and made key mistakes which led to at least 3 goals by the opponents over 3 matches.

        To blame Chiellini would be wrong. He had to cover for 4 players since he was surrounded by incompetent defeners. The GK Marchetti was at fault for the 3rd goal to a certain extra: Why go out and the player didnt even have control of the ball yet? He seemed confused- either should have rushed quicker or simply waited to block the shot.

        Mistakes in lineup: Cannavaro (3rd match in a row of course), Criscito (I stressed Maggio should start for various circumstances), Gattuso (Why no? Italy needed win not draw, should have gone for Camoranesi as bad as he is), Iaquinta (Again? there’s no point playing static strikers like Gilardino or those who do pointless running like Iaquinta. It was time for a Di Natale, Quagi, Pepe trident as bad as Pepe was with his finishing he still crossed and moved and ran).

        No excuses but those who just blame the age factor are wrong: Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Gattuso, Iaquinta and Di Natale from the starters were over 30 (and 2 of them Gattuso and Di Natale did not start before!) What was wrong is the choice of those over 30! Pirlo who is over 30 deserves a start but he’s been healthy and Zambrotta deserved his start after playing consistent the first two games. It’s Cannavaro and Iaquinta from the over 30 age-group who should have been benched.

        Finally, you don’t take Cassano or Totti or Balotelli or Miccoli on the plane then you suffer! It’s quite as simple. Pazzini scored for Samp in the big games cause Cassano was providers and Gilardino did for Fiorentina because he had Vargas and Jovetic. Both Pazzini (in his 2nd half cameo against the Kiwis) and Gilardino (in 2 starts) looked useless, clueless, ineffective, and perhaps even foolish! You could sense their frustration but they honestly were not supplied with crosses and passes.

        Ok, perhaps this is controversial but check F. Inzaghi who is one of European club competitions all-time leading scorers: He would do nothing unless supplied the ball and he is good at finishing. Pazzini is a finisher. Gilardino can finish provided he gets opportunities. There’s no point playing them if there is no supply!

        Not to justify anything but the Quagi goal was a very close call and no one can blame the refs. It easily could have been 2-2 but Italy did not deserve it.

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