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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Group F - Italy

Nickname – Azzurri

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

Finishing top without being defeated in their world cup qualifying introduces us to the World Cup winner Italy that looks like want to head for the second consecutive title. Ireland under Trapattoni guidance also finished without any loss but still managed to draw 6 times and that was costly and specially if you remember in one of those matches Gilardino scoring a late goal to reach a precious point against Ireland when everyone was thinking they would win the match 2-1. That’s Italy in the pure essence. Gilardino was instrumental scoring 4 of the 18 goals in the right place, in the right moment.

H2H

Jun 14 Cape Town Italy v Paraguay - Italy 2 Paraguay 0. That’s how we stand in terms of wins/losses between these two nations whether it is non-competitive matches or in a world cup stage.

Jun 20 Nelspruit Italy v New Zealand - Only one match so far and what a tremendous match it was. 1-2 at half-time for New Zealand. 2-3 by the 57 minute still for New Zealand. And then in the last 20 minutes Italy scores twice by Iaquinta to finish the game 4-3 in favor of Italy. Can they deliver such a entertainer match in this World Cup?

Jun 24 Johannesburg Slovakia v Italy - 3-0 was the only result that saw Italy beating Slovakia in 1998.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari)

Defenders: Gianluca Zambrotta (Milan), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Leonardo Bonucci (Bari), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa)

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Simone Pepe (Udinese)

Strikers: Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria)

FORMATION

Marcello Lippi has converted on his own perspective 4-3-3 formation. Buffon; Cannavaro, Chielini, Zambrotta, Criscito; Pirlo, Gattuso, de Rossi/Palombo; Borrielo, Di Natale & Gilardino.

BEST PLAYERS

The 32 year old Juventus’s player Buffon is unarguably the best goalkeeper in the world and even though he isn’t the youngest he keeps performing top-class on and on. His loyalty and command mixed with agility and bravery allows him to be a star on his own even when we talk about goalkeeping. He is considered by same as to be inside among the 100 world’s best players ever and still he finds motivation to keep winning over and over again which makes him an invaluable player inside of the whole team where he passes on experience, tranquility and strong competitive will wherever he is.

Daniele de Rossi plays for Roma and he is the key player leading Italy as Totti and Del Piero have been in the recent past. The previous World Cup gave a perspective of how important Rossi would be. That happen 4 years ago when he was 23, now growing bolder and older he’s approaching the 27th anniversary he faces the fact of having to keep on his shoulders alongside Pirlo the nation’s fate in this World Cup. Likewise Pirlo he plays a defensive midfielder position with a creative exposure such as Gerrard and Lampard have been for England even though people focus more on their attacking performance. He combines the capacity of bringing the team into defensive/offensive transition creating the power-play and using his capacity of striking long range missiles with precise accuracy. This season was no different from previous having Rossi featured on 51 matches scoring 10 and assisting in 6 times.

Andrea Pirlo as mentioned stands alongside with Buffon and De Rossi as the key player for the Azzurri. What he lacks in height and pace his genially covered by Pirlo’s decisive unique ability of vision, passing and shooting. With his vision he sends through break passes like if he was watching the game from the top stand and if the referee calls for corner kick or free kick, be careful, you will see the finest delivery in that dead ball situations coming from Pirlo. 53 matches, 1 goal and 7 assists this season for Pirlo’s individual performance level. If you see Italy through the latest stages of the World Cup make no mistake, Pirlo will be in top of the headlines.

SURPRISE

The surprise omissions are Grosso from Juventus, Balotelli from Internazionale, Miccoli from Palermo, Cassano from Sampdoria and Totti from Roma.

STATEMENTS

"No team is superior to Italy. I don't want to say that we're better than everyone, but you might say that we're not inferior to any other team," Marcello Lippi, coach.

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- Marcello Lippi –

1 World Cup 2006;

1 Champions League – Juventus - 1996;

1 European SuperCup – Juventus - 1997;

1 Intercontinental Cup – Juventus – 1996;

5 Serie A – Juventus - 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003;

1 Coppa Italia – Juventus - 2005;

4 Supercoppa – Juventus - 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003

Career made of 697 matches with 47% Win, 29% Draw, 24% Loss, GS 1,52 GA 1,01

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strength – The Azzurri strength relies on the defensive line as it was in the last World Cup. At the expense of individual brilliance, Lippi’s gives preference to the consistency of the team as a whole. The hypocrisy of Italian strategy has been the same forever that’s why you don’t see them scoring much goals but then again are able to advance to the last stages of the competitions.

Weaknesses – Having only at disposal the Di Natale factor in the attack that could mean once again problems for Italy in an offensive perspective. The ability of Lippi to choose a strong squad for this World Cup could jeopardize their chances to win the World Cup. Would you leave Grosso, Balotelli (despite his madness), Miccoli, Cassano and Totti out?

Opportunities – Easy group. Should they fail to make it into first place they will face Netherlands in the second round.

Threats – Only complacency should deny them the first place and consequently the qualification to the second round.

FIFA WORLD RANKINGS

5th best in the world, Italy is currently ahead of Germany, Argentina and England, behind of Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Brazil.

ACHIEVEMENTS

4 FIFA World Cup – 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006;

1 Olympic Gold Medal – 1936;

1 UEFA European Championship – 1968;

CASTROL INDEX

LATEST 10 MATCHES

Egypt 1 0 Italy

Italy 0 3 Brazil

Switzerland 0 0 Italy

Georgia 0 2 Italy

Italy 2 0 Bulgaria

Rep. of Ireland 2 2 Italy

Italy 3 2 Cyprus

Italy 0 0 Netherlands

Italy 1 0 Sweden

Cameroon 0 0 Italy


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