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, part of my job is teaching people about nutrition as well as many other health and performance related tricks ... but I appreciate your willingness to help, thanks.
If you don't mind me asking, where do you live, play?

I was born in Budapest in 1966 and the pinnacle of my football career was playing for the Ferencváros (or Fradi, as it is called by us, homies :)youth team.
Moved out to the States in '91, lived here in Portland, OR ever since, been playing at recreational level.

on the 30th March, 2013 at 6:11pm
Zoli, thanks for not repeating yourself.

As for your latter comment, personal trainer i am not, but try porridge, slow energy release
on the 29th March, 2013 at 5:15pm
Boss, I perfectly understand what you are saying, no need to reiterate. I however, don't want to repeat myself yet again. I am not "implying" anything and I can't use any plainer English to get my point across.

I have to add one thing though, if rest damages your game then you are a very lucky person. I envy you, honestly. At my age I have to be careful not to burn out in warm-up ... :)

Best of luck in your next match :)

on the 29th March, 2013 at 3:11pm
Zoli, u imply that at the performance levels of the Spain Italy game makes a difference, apparently to the first touch. I was telling you that I disagree that having a one day difference from playing a game causes one team to be more fatigued then the other which leads to a beating.

To reiterate, I disgaree with the whole fatigue argument based on football timetables. As i said, i play myself frequently, I find having a rest from football actually damages my game.
on the 28th March, 2013 at 8:04pm
Boss, please read my previous comment with a little more attention.
My argument was not about your assessment of the Italy-Spain final. I agree with you on that.
Again, I simply stated that fatigue can be a major factor at the highest levels.
If you play the game you know about the all-mighty importance of that first touch on the ball right ? :)
Whether someone complains about fatigue or not, that's a whole different matter.

on the 28th March, 2013 at 3:17pm
Here's sharing my 23 men whom i regard as the best in their positions:

(4-3-1-2 Azzurri)

Buffon, Sirigu, Viviano

Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Crisicito
De Sciglio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Santon

De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo
Poli, Verratti, Marchisio


Balotelli, Cassano
Destro, El Shaarawy
on the 28th March, 2013 at 2:47pm
Hey people let us all cease critising other's opinion.

Yes indeed, each of us have a right to voice our views, but if those
views causes conflict, then what right do we have to fuel dissensions?

There are those of us who sincerely love the Azzurri to the core of the bone.
So I believe we can differentiate posts that offers genuine constructive insights from
those that just want to cause strife.

Let's just be responsible for the words we use as they come out from our own mouths.
on the 28th March, 2013 at 2:40pm
Zoli, if is pain had one week off, whilst Italy were made to play for 7 consecutive days in intense matches then i could understand. I don't recall exactly how many days extra Spain had compared with Italy although i think it was one. To make a big deal of one day is certainly an excuse. I can not accept that caused Italy to be fatigued to the extent they got punished 4-0. People need to be realistic in accepting Italy are not very good in the final third, which is the Achilles heel.
on the 27th March, 2013 at 7:12pm

We all know that the difference between a good and not so good team these days is far less than it used to be, let's just say 20ish years ago.
These athletes hone their skills and bodies to near perfection nowadays. Any skip, however minuscule, can make a huge difference.

I am not arguing who won or lost because of fatigue. All I'm saying is that at those performance levels it can make a huge difference, regardless of your bank account figures.
Doctors can show you objective evidence.
on the 27th March, 2013 at 4:20pm
Daniel, I'm glad you concede Italy were poor in the final. I agree that Italy did have some misfortune in respect of the red card. However, blaming the loss on fatigue is ridiculous. Give me 200k per week, i think the last thing i would be complaining about is running for 90 minutes.

Finally, in the final, Italy thought they would do to Spain what they did in the group stage. Unfortunately the real Spain showed up in the final.
on the 26th March, 2013 at 10:39pm
Daniel, i said you probably don't play football as you keep using the excuse of fatigue for Italy losing to Spain. I was simply saying that i do not suffer fatigue when I play football consecutively albeit i am no pro. However I lack expert physio's to work on me around the clock. I therefore find the excuse of fatigue exactly that, an excuse. In any event, you say the comment i made was childish, yet you continue to reply. You should refrain from doing so.
on the 26th March, 2013 at 10:33pm
Danielle, you need to calm down, it is only a blog. You say a fit chiellini would not be outrun by fabregas. He wasnt outrun it was just fab was better positioned. Even if chiellini was fit, he's hardly usain bolt. It isn't a question of me needing evidence i just think you sometimes make stupid comments. Your evidently not objective if you think Spain scored the first goal against Italy purely because chiellini was injured. Nothing of course 2 do with poor defending. Don't make excuses
on the 26th March, 2013 at 10:24pm
your all boring and think that you own the football italia site. Some even have the cheek to be rude towards the people who write the blogs

someone in football italia needs to admin these posts.

forza Italia per tonight
on the 26th March, 2013 at 3:55pm
Your to critical and not realistic if you had a realistic mentality you wouldnt be like that cause you would except the fact giaccherini is not good De Sciglio is 20 we didnt have chiellini or marchisio and Osvaldo isn't a pure striker plus the debut of others. That's why we didn't clearly out class them or look better obviously. hum sounds like Brazil should have been superior considering all those flaws we possess. WOW they werent though becuase suprisingly we played well.
on the 26th March, 2013 at 11:46am
Boss/Dominator, you are right about the final, Spain were great & Italy were poor. Italy were indeed were wasteful throughout the tournament. The Italy that played in the final were unrecognisable from the side that played Germany. But there were mitigating circumstances-one days less rest, the team was a cocktail of exhaustion & injury doubts, Chiellini & Motta' early withdrawals, playing with 10 men for almost 40 minutes etc.
on the 26th March, 2013 at 11:26am
Boss/Dominator, your, "you probably don't play football" comment, is an incredibly childish & shallow statement. Would you ask football journalists & anchors the same question? FYI, I do play football. Knowing your mentality, it wouldn't surprise me if you now respond with something like, "but do you play at pro or semi pro level?" The fact that you have the arrogance to call yourself Boss/Dominator tells me all I need to know about you. Kudos, on your ability to use a thesaurus!
on the 26th March, 2013 at 11:11am
Boss/Dominator-the same person? You need to get your facts together. To call me dense, because I said that Chiellini was carrying an injury in the final,(& that was why Fabregas outran him for the first goal), is just plain idiotic! Chiellini was a doubt right up to the start of the tournament, he then picked up a thigh strain against Germany in the semi, & shortly after the Fabregas goal, he was taken off. What more evidence do you need?
on the 26th March, 2013 at 10:55am
Boss/Dominator, I've never claimed to be intelligent, but I'll take your comment as an indirect compliment. Does someone really have to have played the game, in order to have an opinion on football matters?! Brazil are 18th in the farcical FIFA rankings mostly because they've not played competitive football for almost 2 years. How can you not class them amongst the favourites? This is Brazil we're talking about, & they will be playing in front of their own fans. Take it easy!
on the 25th March, 2013 at 7:29pm
Al, i interpreted the game differently to you. You are satisfied with that performance, that is your prerogative. I am not satisfied with my team being 1-0 down and sitting in their own half. I saw an ill prepared brazil team that most clinical teams would have punished. With Italy i saw a team lacking potency up front. I saw a team lacking in ideas up front. That's y I am not satisfied. U might argue that is a lack of intelligence, i would say your logic demonstrates your poor cognitive ability
on the 25th March, 2013 at 6:40pm
You need to take your own advice, be objective, Italy did not lose 2 Spain due to fatigue. They lost because they were poor. They fail to take opportunities. The group game against Spain where balo dispossessed Sergio Ramos, thought he had all day, Ramos went and tackled him. Italy are an ok team, but I'm not content with just ok. The gulf in class between all teams and Spain including at club level is extremely frustrating to have to endure.
on the 25th March, 2013 at 6:33pm
Daniel, i have no qualms with you voicing your opinion. I do however take exception to you attempting to criticise others, especially when making dense comments such as the fabregas chiellini contrast. Don't blame fatigue. Dominator quite rightly makes the point that you probably don't actually play football. I'm no pro, but I play footy three times per week, gym three times per week and hold a full time job. I can honestly say taking days off from footy makes me lose my sharpness
on the 25th March, 2013 at 6:29pm
Were all Azzurri fans here come on Daniel makes sense and I don't blame Boss concerned about are back line but to not be satisfied with are performance agaisnt Brazil your not being realistic or like Daniel said your understanding for the game lacks intelligence and your really not a true fan. There will be always room to improve clearly. Were still a project in the process to dont forget and dominator criticise drapes if anyone you to boss cause his post are really ridiculous. Be realistic!
on the 25th March, 2013 at 2:17pm
daniel - you need to stop trying to sound intelligent, it doesn't suit you. Im sick of guys like Daniel that keep posting and make out they are experts on the game of football. Daniel do you even play football yourself or is it just on the ps3.

u bossed a favourite? tell me where brazil are ranked in the world again? whats the point of "bossing" to draw 2 - 2. Italy tried their hardest in that game, brazil were a fraction of their potential and they still held italy.
on the 25th March, 2013 at 1:38pm
Boss, I certainly do not lack ambition for the Azzurri! Anyone who reads my posts on here will back me up. Yes, I was content with our performance against Brazil. Aside from the overall finishing, we played some outstanding football, & BOSSED one of the favourite's for next years competition. If you didn't appreciate the quality of Italy's football, then you cannot be a real football fan. That, or you are just a cheap troll. The general consensus on here feels that it is the latter.
on the 25th March, 2013 at 9:59am
Ppl we all need to relax. There was alot of positives to take from the italy performance and alot of negatives, balo goal was good but had ceasar been on his line he wouldnt av scored it but it was a well taken goal BUT we need to improve infront of goal. Brazil had 2 chances and scored them both thats the kind of qualify we need to bring to the table.
Another issue that needs addressing is defence, coz we looked amateur on the 2 conceded goals. Youngsters are coming along. Forza ita
on the 25th March, 2013 at 9:56am
Boss, you are right in that Italy have been too wasteful in front of goal, & careless at times at the back. My comments re: the final were objective! I said that Spain played well. As for the condition of the Italian players-there were many reports about the fitness of the players. Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Rossi, & Motta were all doubtful for the game, & it really showed. A fit Chiellini would never get outrun by Fabregas.
on the 25th March, 2013 at 9:53am
Its not about balos goal not being in the corner, look at the way he can make it dip, with a lot of power too, which made it really hard to save.. So idk wat ur talking about "boss"
on the 25th March, 2013 at 12:50am
Danielle, my posts r controversial but true, people like you can not handle the criticism of Italy. You lack ambition hence y your probably content with the Italy performance. You ask me to be objective, then why use the excuse of fatigue for Italy v Spain. B honest, Spain showed up, Italy didnt, outplayed and outclassed. My point is this Italy team wastes far too many chances and playing the champions like that will not go unpunished. Italy need 2 fix up.
on the 24th March, 2013 at 7:36pm
Viktoria, i know you find it difficult, but read my previous post carefully and you might ascertain why I brought Spain into it. You think drawing with this brazil team is an accomplishent? Then i say your an absolute fool. I like balo, but his goal wasnt in the top corner you fool. It was a poor save not a great goal. Watch the replay and look where the ball enters the goal. Viktoria you need to buy a TV and start watching football rather then following written commentary.
on the 24th March, 2013 at 7:30pm
U think u own this blog mate? Ur just a uptight woman who can never be wrong ever. Take a pill that is labeled chill

Calm down bro. No need to get ur panties in a knot. I'm a die hard Italian football fan the icardi thing was just a joke u guys clearly can't take one. So sit down before I park a soccer ball up ur rear end. I don't need spelling corrections from u but thanks anyway I didn't actually know how to spell it:p
on the 24th March, 2013 at 4:51pm

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