NEWS
Thursday June 14 2012
Italy player ratings v Croatia

The Croatian curse came back to bite Italy and left them facing an anxious Group C finale. Scott Fleming evaluates the Azzurri performances after missed chances and mistimed leaps in Poznan...

Gigi Buffon: 6

One or two strange but inconsequential little spillages aside, Buffon negotiated his 117th international appearance with aplomb. Could do nothing about the Croatian equaliser. Untested.

Leonardo Bonucci: 7.5

The most improved player from the Spain game. Italy's best defender on the night but also found time to get forward, dinking a delightful pass into Cassano's path and coming close with a deflected drive. Resurgent.

Daniele De Rossi: 7

After all the talk of how much he'd struggle against the dual threat of Nikica Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic, De Rossi had a fairly serene afternoon. Reacted well when called upon though. Assured.

Giorgio Chiellini: 5

Ouch. An otherwise decent performance was tarnished when Chiellini's mistimed jump allowed Mandzukic in to level the scores. He can only hope the ball soaring over his head doesn't become the defining image of Italy's tournament. Culpable.

Christian Maggio: 6

Made more of an impact going forward than Emanuele Giaccherini, but had his hands full with the rampaging Ivan Strinic and could perhaps have done more to prevent the cross for the goal. Average.

Thiago Motta: 6

Started in imperious fashion, spraying raking passes around with his left boot, but the second half saw him put Jelavic in a sleeper hold, get elbowed in the head and be replaced by Montolivo. Uncompromising.

Andrea Pirlo: 8.5

Pinged perfectly weighted passes over the heads of defenders all afternoon and gave Italy the lead with a sweetly struck free kick. If you gasped when he misplaced a pass in the second half – and I certainly did – it’s because he does so very rarely. Masterful.

Claudio Marchisio: 7

His brief was to bomb forward and support the strikers and he did so with gusto and finesse, producing a wonderful piece of skill to make space before Stipe Pletikosa twice denied him in the first half. Dynamic.

Emanuele Giaccherini: 5.5

Didn't do much wrong but didn't do enough to justify his inclusion ahead of Federico Balzaretti either. Too busy with Darijo Srna and Ivan Rakitic to make incursions upfield. Underwhelming.

Mario Balotelli: 6.5

Clumsy, indecisive and responsible for downright dopey decision making at times, but his infamous temper was nowhere to be seen and his work rate has gone up tenfold. Let's not forget he's a 21-year-old debuting at an international tournament. Expect much less debate about losing his place before the Ireland game. Growing.

Antonio Cassano: 7

Peter Pan left the central areas to Super Mario and once again roamed the channels, utilising his vision and deftness of touch to create several opportunities. Fluffed a first half chance. Class.

Riccardo Montolivo: 6

Stung Pletikosa's palms with a long ranger and created a late chance which Pirlo and Di Natale fluffed between them. Decent.

Antonio Di Natale: 5

No repeat of his Gdansk heroics. Which is fine, you can't score career defining goals every day, but a strangely muted 26-minute cameo from Toto nonetheless. Ineffective.

Sebastian Giovinco: 6

An exuberant presence after replacing Cassano, giving big Gordon Schildenfeld kittens with his pace down the right, but produced little of substance. Frenetic.

Ratings by: Scott Fleming

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