Italy can only draw against New Zealand

by Niccolo Conte on June 20, 2010 · 3 comments

Yet another disappointing result for the Azzurri, while they drew with Paraguay last round of matches, that result seemed acceptable because New Zealand and Slovakia drew as well. But a draw against New Zealand, knowing that Paraguay had beaten Slovakia 2-0 is definitely a bad result.

Lippi decided to start with a standard 4-4-2 formation, with a defense of Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, and Criscito from right to left. The midfield was composed of De Rossi and Montolivo in front of the defense with Marchisio on the left and Pepe on the right as they supported the attacking pair of Gilardino and Iaquinta. A line-up that could've done without Marchisio and Gilardino for me, I'd rather have Di Natale and Quagliarella with Iaquinta in a 4-3-3.

The match started badly for the Azzurri, Italy were a goal down after just 7 minutes thanks to bad defending and bad goal-keeping. From a free kick swung in for the cross, Cannavaro was unable to clear the ball which allowed Smeltz to tap it past flailing Marchetti. A bad goal to concede with the only positive that at least now Italy had plenty of time to come back against New Zealand.

Italy went on to dominate possession, keeping the ball but not penetrating the New Zealand defence at all, Gilardino was invisible and Iaquinta often didn't have support. Montolivo didn't get into the game right away leaving the rest of the team with little direction and order. While Pepe ran his heart out all over the field, it was hard to find Marchisio as he often disappeared for large periods of the game.

But things weren't going too badly, around the 20th minute Italy began to shoot towards the goal, with Montolivo even hitting the post. After that, De Rossi was brought down in the penalty area and the referee whistled for a penalty, a gift from above. As Iaquinta stepped up to take it, I was worried about whether he'd hit the ball closer to the corner flag or the goal, but the Juventus striker proved me wrong with a very well taken penalty which put the score at 1-1.

And so with a good hour of time to find the winner you'd expect the world champions to find a goal against New Zealand, but it was not so. Italy did try to score, but they were lacking creativity going forward, they were missing Cassano, Balotelli, Rossi, or any type of number 10. And so at half-time Lippi put on Di Natale and Camoranesi, taking off Gilardino and Pepe in hopes to inspire something. Although why he took Pepe off and not Marchisio I have no idea, to me Pepe was one of the best on the field, and Marchisio was truly missing in action.

Italy continued but again, they just weren't able to penetrate through the defense like Spain, Brazil, and Germany can. Lippi eventually took Marchisio off and put on Pazzini to play a 4-3-3 with Pazzini in the middle with Di Natale left and Iaquinta right. Pazzini was the man I wanted to see, but sadly I didn't see him at all, he was truly hidden amongst the New Zealand defenders, providing no spark or movement to the Italy attack.

The Azzurri were limited to Montolivo's long-range shots as New Zealand were comfortable with the result. The New Zealand goal-keeper Paston was excellent at keeping at bay Montolivo's goal-bound efforts along with a great strike from Camoranesi. Italy were without inspiration as they could only get a draw against New Zealand, a very negative result which makes the Slovakia game practically a "must-win".

3 comments… read them below or add one

1 Rami S. June 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Hi Niccolo,

I must say if I had to make a choice I’d bench for the next game: Gilardino, Marchisio, Cannavaro and Criscito.

Cannavaro was at fault for the goal regardless if it’s offside or not. It bounced off him or landed on him to reach the NZ player. In the game against Paraguay the opposing player jumped higher than him and De Rossi to score. Cannavaro has become a weak link. There’s a chance to bench the aging man and bring in a younger player against Slovakia.

I’ve said it before but there’s no place for Gilardino in this system and lineup. Marchisio is also being wasted behind the strikers and then on the left-wing in those 2 matches. Bench both and start Di Natale and Pazzini.

I thought Crisito was a bit short on quality so I’d switch Zambrotta to the left and give Maggio the start. Italy need the goals and Maggio is more of an offensive player than Criscito.

The Azzurri have been poor in this World Cup but it must be said both Paraguay and NZ did not threat the Italy goal except from set-pieces. The problem is Italy cannot score without a set-piece either (corner and penalty).

I am not too optimistic for the Slovakia match but if the right formation and players startthen Italy can win.


2 Niccolo Conte June 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

Hi Rami,

I’d probably agree with all your players dropped except for Criscito, I feel that he’s a very stable option, and maybe against Slovakia Lippi will tell him to be more attack minded.

But what did you think about Pazzini, a terrible performance from a player I really wanted to see.


3 Rami S. June 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Hi Niccolo,

I personally think Criscito will be a future Azzurri mainstay but considering the current formation and tactics, I feel there’s a need for a change on the flanks. I admit I am surprised by Zambrotta- I thought he was long finished, but he’s been very consistent in the WC so far and he has performed admirably! I’d shift him to left side and bring Maggio in for one reason: Maggio can be an attacking threat with his crossing and wing play. Azzurri need goals so I thought Maggio can provide width.

Starting Maggio and then having Pepe on the right could allow the two to link up and when one attacks the other drops back to cover the defensive end.

I thought Pazzini proved to be a big game scorer with his goals for Samp against Milan and Roma. The problem again is the Azzurri formation and tactics do not help him to shine. Even Iaquinta didn’t see much of the ball but the difference is Iaquinta puts the effort and runs around (unlike Gilardino and Pazzini).

I feel Pirlo’s return will be a plus but it will not be the difference maker. Di Natale must be allowed to start to compensate for the absence of a Totti (or Cassano or Del Piero or Miccoli). Di Natale had the only shot on target by a striker which the NZ goalkeeper saved while Iaquinta’s was a penalty and Gilardino had none!


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