Friday March 22 2013
Italy - The Comeback Kings

Italy finally showed up in a friendly when they took on Brazil. Giancarlo Rinaldi saw plenty of Azzurri positives in the 2-2 draw.

Football friendlies, as that bloke off MasterChef might say, do not get tougher than this. When Italy take on Brazil they put their previous World Cup victories on show like Michelin stars. Judging by their clash in Geneva, they can still produce some gourmet stuff.

It was a match to rip up all the stereotypes you might have about the two teams involved. In the first half in particular, the Azzurri were attacking, enterprising and created chances with great ease and style. The Verdeoro, for their part, were cool and clinical and lethal on the break.

Cesare Prandelli could have felt aggrieved to be 1-0 down at half-time, never mind two goals behind. His players produced about as slick a display as they have mustered in an Amichevole during his reign. But the opportunities which fell to Mario Balotelli, Pablo Osvaldo and others were spurned.

Indeed, if there was a lesson to be learned it was that you cannot afford to pass up too many goalscoring chances against the better sides in the world. La Nazionale knows better than most that there are no prizes for beautiful football without putting the ball in the net. Luckily, they caught on to that fact in time for the second half.

There was a certain irony in the tactical switch which produced the goods. Prandelli moved his team from 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2 to scramble to a draw in the recent friendly with the Netherlands. He made the opposite move to kick-start the comeback against Brazil.

Not that his team played badly in the opening 45 minutes, quite the opposite. Emanuele Giaccherini operated well behind Osvaldo and Balotelli and the midfield regulars like Andrea Pirlo, Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi helped to boss the game. Only the defence, deprived of Giorgio Chiellini, had the odd scare, particularly on the left.

There is no doubt that Mattia De Sciglio is a great prospect, but he did have a tough night in Switzerland. Both goals came in his zone and, although no direct blame needs to be attached, he will feel he could have done better. Fortunately, he has a whole career ahead of him and he is starting out from a high level of performance.

Tweaking the formation saw Alessio Cerci and Stephan El Shaarawy flank Balotelli in attack while Osvaldo and Pirlo – perhaps with an eye on keeping him fresh for Malta – made way. It could be argued that it did not improve Italy's performance levels all that much. It did, however, bring them two precious goals.

The first will have annoyed Brazilian supporters. Poor defending at a corner allowed De Rossi to swing a leg and fire the ball past the previously impeccable Julio Cesar. The look on the Roma general's face said he knew he might have started something special.

And Super Mario – who else? – took that thought and ran with it. Pouncing on a misplaced opposition pass he strode towards goal with only one thought in mind and delivered a breathtaking strike. His celebrations suggested even he was pretty pleased with that one.

At the full-time whistle, there were certainly reasons to be cheerful. This was as good as it has got in Prandelli friendlies. It gave an upbeat vibe about the quality of play the side can provide when it is properly focused on the job in hand. That needs to be maintained in Malta.

There is fine-tuning to be done, of course, and a few tactical puzzles still to be solved. But, overall, the game seemed to confirm that these will be two sides to watch when the World Cup comes around. Back in the studio, even the British TV pundits were grinning at the quality of the clash they had just witnessed. When you get two of the greats going toe-to-toe you can almost always guarantee they will produce top quality fare.

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Have your say...
Boss, you really should change your name, as so many of your posts carry the signature of an amateur. Try to be a little more objective! Spain played well against Italy in that final, but most of our team was shattered or carrying injuries. Losing Motta & playing with 10 men also didn't help. Did did you watch Spain against Finland? On this weekends showing, I'd say that Italy played the better football, with greater variation in their play.
on the 24th March, 2013 at 11:40am
You have to wonder whether the author of this article has ever seen how ridiculously damaged and shaky Julio Cesar's performances, even at his peak, were before he commented like "the previously impeccable Julio Cesar".... Seriously, even Cech has been more stable in his performances than Cesar, and Cech has been involved in multiple head trauma injuries....
on the 24th March, 2013 at 9:34am
Hahaha that's histarical drapes I'm not mad not at all I'm not gonna even go there.with you man that's how pathetic you are and sound you will never no more than me you joke fake fan. Learn how to spell giaccherini!
on the 24th March, 2013 at 5:07am
Great, entertaining game.
Sometimes deciding to be proactive forces you to be reactive right DG ? :)
This is the Italy I want to see. The paint needs some more polishing here and there, but very doable.

Glad we shook that "Italy is worthless in friendlies" monkey off our back ... well, for now at least. When the boys went forward they found the solutions with much more ease. If Balo can shift his focus on work and away from his statue he could go a long way.
Just a joke, he's alright :)
on the 24th March, 2013 at 12:11am
@ Al
U Mad Bro? I know what im talking abut. Giacarrini is a versitile player and is great asamoah and vidal are the only ones that keep him from sarting and sometimes pogba. Matri is in form and is a good all around striker he should be thee instead of giovinco and oswaldo. Cerci is a good player diamanti iss just a old person on a suger rush. Cerci is our best and only option on the right in the 4-3-3 unless pepe was here. so go eat a crusty gym sock and stop getting mad. I know more than u.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 10:20pm
Drapes first off don't get mad and all bent out of shape because you don't know what your talking about and anyone in there right mind would disagree with everything you said before come on. Icardi already devoted himself to Argentina giaccherini is a joke so is matri and montolivo has been playing well and cerci is another Diamanti you based his chemistry with balo and ses and they only played once together for 45 minutes. No what your talking about if your going to post.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 9:20pm
Mate, Please, i give my opinions in a respective way. I woud stop getting mad cuz im allowed to put in my input at this bog. Your embarrassing yourself by trying totell me to stop voicing my opinion which is taking away my freedom of speech.
But i agree with you on Pirlo de rossi and montilivio/msrchisio tacttical midfield comment, well said donkey.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 7:34pm
Great game from Italy if you are comparing them with average teams. I only want to compare them to the champions, Spain. If Italy meet Spain playing as crap as that they may as well bend over the barrel right now. How many times do span players miss one on ones? Jordan alba is a defender and scores one on one. Balo is a striker and can't score from that close against Caesar. Y is every1 saying Italy dominated? Brazil rapidly sliced the defence apart. Spain will punish Italy if they do tht
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 7:09pm
Drapes every opinion you have ever made has been really emberessing I would stop if I were you.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 5:59pm
We finally found our ``trequartista``In Gicarrini! he shud not hav beensubbed off mate. I really like how Balo Caerci and El Shaaraway play together. Icardi still should be here tho. Bribe him with FATantonio`s canolies to get him to come. Icardi alredy has a better shot than messi. We really missed Marchisio tho montilivio is ok i guess. and Matri shoul be the other striker cuz hes n form not fat boxer girl haired ovwaldo. the 4-3-3 only works against certain opponents tho.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 5:21pm
The score didn't reflect the performance. Brazil played well but it wasn't jogo bonito. The Azzurri played much better and displayed some bel gioco. De Sciglio's anticipation on the goals was poor and Julio Cesar had arguably his best match for Brazil.
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 10:25am
Montolivo, De Rossi, Pirlo all tactical midfielders thats why we looked so good last night. Them plus Verratti and Cigarini
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 1:48am
Absolutely loved the game, and was proud to see us dominate Brazil.
Two dips in concentration gave Brazil two goals but I'm sure that can be ironed out by the time WC comes around.

Forza Italia!! :D
on the 23rd March, 2013 at 12:09am
Bulgaria hammer malta. We need to do that on tuesday, be ruthless and hammer teams. We always struggle against these kinds of teams. We should go to places like malta and score 5 goals. This has always annoyed me, in these away matches we struggle. Prove me wrong about tuesday.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 6:53pm
a fair result in a game that i thought was balanced. was very entertaining as well. two quality teams playing quality football/soccer. it's not always about possession percentages or number of scoring opportunities. the final score line is what means/tells the most in this match. 2-2! great step forward for both teams and both can go forward looking to get even better. it will be great to see them play each other in confederations cup. would be even more amazing to see them meet up in the WC!!!
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 5:49pm
In june hope to see consigli, roncaglia, chiellini, ogbonna, marchisio, rossi and cassano in the squad. In the euros we missed so many chances we need to start taking them. Is there a more united squad than ours the team huddle before start of second half was great. United we stand. Forza italia.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 4:18pm
glad to see italy play one of its best games in a while, hopefully they can keep it up. we do need criscito and chiellini back though thats for sure. Forza Azzurri
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 4:05pm
I think the switch to the 4-3-3 brought a big difference to the way Italy played. Having El Shaarawy and Cerci on the field really stretched Brazil. The addition of Cerci makes Italy dangerous on both sides of the field. The 4-3-3 should be used again against Malta.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 3:55pm
@Tino Baggio:

I'm not sure what game you were watching, because Cerci has a place in this side.

Drop Osvaldo, Gilardino, Diamanti, Abate, Giovinco, and De Sanctis

Bring in Cassano, Giuseppe Rossi, Santon, and Francesco Totti to operate a bit deeper. Also, Francesco Lodi should be given a look. He is a natural leader with a deadly set piece and can influence a game just by stepping n the field.

Time to trim the fat. Static players like Osvaldo, Gila, and Giovinco must go now.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 3:45pm
Couldnt agree more with if i.

If Italy had taken their chances and Brazil would have been out of sight... Balotelli twice attempted to score through Cesars legs and really... I have to say should have scored a hat-trick last night. The half time anaylsis I thought was pathetic... Brazil scored on two breaks (their second brill) and hardly did anything else... It was as if we all had watched a different game.
Great perfoamnce though and can't wait for the future.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 3:45pm
Thank you Giancarlo Rinaldi...Forza Azzurri
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 2:52pm
If Italy play like this in the world cup and confidential cup i reckon they could win them both. There's a few things need to iron out such as the defense but then we were missing a few key players in that part and the forwards need to be more critical in front of goal. Apart from that its was the best i've seen them play in a while
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 1:22pm
@ if

Brazil were 2 up when it should have been Italy that were up in the first half....but wernt. Brazils 2 were clinical counter attacks.

It should have been 6-2 but it was not and this is where it may bite Italy in the future. Brazil deserve flattery as they fought until the end
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 1:06pm
A fantastic display of Football & shows that when the Azzurri decide to play football no one can bet against us.

Far too many wasted opportunities & it is that which makes the important difference. Need to be more clinical in placing the ball in the net just as Brazils 2 goals were.

Osvaldo, Cerci, Diamanti dont have a place in the national side. While good players at club level they dont have what it takes for the nazional side. I dont know how many times Diamanti has balloned it on freekicks
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 1:01pm
I really enjoyed both the game & Italy's performance. On another day, we could have won by a clear margin. Brazil are always going to be a threat on the counter, but in fairness, apart from their goals, they didn't test Buffon all that often. There was a lot to be happy about. I just hope that Italy can continue to play with the quality & intensity that they showed last night. It would be frustrating if they only put in these showings against the top teams, and not the lesser ones.
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 1:00pm
you flatter brazil. really, they were barely in the game, and the score should more appropriately have been 6-2. i remember the english media saying it was all over for italy after the last wc, when, really, they were pretty hard done-by by a certain english ref who i won't even name and then, of course, italy play england in the euro and it was like watching target practice. the greatest thing about brazil is their coach scolari. oh, wait, his grandparents were from veneto, weren't they?
on the 22nd March, 2013 at 12:50pm

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