Tag: Italy

World Cup 2010: Slovakia 3-2 Italy

Some games just don’t need much of an introduction. And this is one. On paper, Group F looked fairly predictable. Holders Italy were expected to win the group, with Paraguay behind. Slovakia were seen as one of the weaker European nations, and New Zealand were considered the weakest team in the competition. It hasn’t turned out like that. Italy have gone the way of the last European winners of the Cup, by being eliminated in the group stages, and join France as the first ever pair of finalists to fall at the first hurdle in the next competition. We began the games with the group looking like this: 1. Paraguay 2. Italy 3. New Zealand 4. Slovakia Antonio Di Natale signals the Italian intention from the off. He takes an early chance hitting a long range shot high over the bar just a few seconds after kick off. A Fabio Cannavaro free kick from just inside the Italian half is headed down by Vincenzo Iaquinta to Di Natale, but the return ball is offside, and Iaquinta’s shot is poor anyway. Slovakia get an early chance. Robert Vittek flicks on a long ball, the Italian defence is asleep, and Marek Hamsik, unmarked in the penalty area sees tame shot goes wide. Vittek goes on another run, but loses possession, with three teammates in better position. This is a much more...

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World Cup 2010: Italy 1-1 New Zealand

When the World Cup was expanded to twenty-four nations for the tournament in Spain in 1982, the decision didn’t come without criticism. Some of it was reserved for the fact that twenty-four nations meant that the tournament had to take an almost absurd looking shape with two group stages (which was jettisoned after one tournament), but the majority of it was reserved for the notion that an expanded World Cup finals would lead to lopsided matches, with new teams getting thrashed out of sight by the old guard. The transitional period was  difficult one (El Salvador’s 10-1 defeat at the hands of Hungary springs immediately to mind) but, over all, this expansion was required to make football more of a global game. The 1982 World Cup finals was significant for both of this afternoon’s teams, but for vastly different reasons. For New Zealand, this was their first (and until this year only) appearance in the finals of the World Cup. In a difficult group with Brazil, the Soviet Union and Scotland, their record of no wins with two goals scored and twelve conceded may look poor, but it was a primarily semi-professional and amateur team playing three teams that (with varying degrees of delusion) had aspirations of winning the competition. Those days are long gone. New Zealand arrived for the 2010 World Cup with a bang, a last minute...

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World Cup 2010: Italy 1-1 Paraguay

At last, a proper football match, if still not a particularly good one until the last half-hour. Maybe it was the rain. Or maybe just Mick McCarthy’s obvious relish of the prospect of some “proper” defending.  “I’m not expecting a wide-open, flowing game of football,” he said, twice, in both hope and expectation. Alan Hansen was of the same mind. The first words I heard of the preview were his “I’d love it if it was 5-4.” Even Clarence Seedorf, not necessarily brought up in the ways of Scottish sarcasm, knew that was b*****s. McCarthy got his wish early on. The start to this one was as boring as most other games so far. But this one was more down to good organisation at the back rather than timidity and incompetence. McCarthy had Paraguay’s formation down as 8-0-2. And there were a few tasty tackles early on, all of which were sly enough to be visible on ultra-slow motion replays. Until this tournament, these have been predominantly used to record ugly players’ uglier facial expressions, especially after conceding a goal. Now, every tackle looks like an ankle-breaker. Jonathan Pearce said “what must Tim Cahill think?” about 29 times. And there were plenty of tackles more worthy of sanction than the one which saw Cahill depart the Germany/Australia game. And Pearce became about the 29th person today to tell us...

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Video Of The Week: “The Match Of The Century” – Italy vs West Germany, 1970

The other week, we brought you the 1970 World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Uruguay in its entirety, and this week it’s time for the other semi-final from that tournament between Italy and West Germany. Italy had started the 1970 World Cup finals slowly. They won their group, but only managed one win, by a solitary goal against Sweden, and two goalless draws, against Uruguay and Israel, to make the quarter-finals of the competition. It was at this stage that they finally sparked into life, beating the host nation Mexico by four goals to one in Toluca after having gone a goal down early on in the match. West Germany, meanwhile, had been the entertainers up to that point in the tournament. They had scored ten goals in three group match wins against Peru, Bulgaria and Morocco, and the three goals that they scored in coming from two down in the quarter-finals to beat England 3-2 in Leon made them, up to that point, the top scorers in the competition. Even the legendary Brazil side of the 1970 tournament didn’t overtake the German team until they scored their second goal in the final. They started this match as the narrow favourites to win a match that was expected by many to be a battle between the Italian defence, which had conceded just one goal in their four matches so...

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World Cup Tales: Did Il Duce Fix It? Italy, 1934

When Joao Havelange claimed, in 2008, that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed, his claims were largely laughed out of court. Depending on who you listened to, he was either deliberately misconstruing events or demonstrating little more than the first signs of senility. What was, however, curious about his comments was what he missed out. No mention was made of the 1978 tournament, which many have pointed to as being a tournament of less than sturdy moral fibre (and was, coincidentally, the first held under Havelange’s tutelage) and, even more curiously, none was made of the second World Cup of all, which was held in the Italy of Benito Mussolini in 1934. We probably shouldn’t be surprised that FIFA decided to hold the second World Cup (and the first to be held in Europe) in a fascist, totalitarian state. After all, they held the 1978 World Cup in one and the decision to hold the 1982 tournament in Spain was made while General Franco was still very much alive. Questionable decisions over the hosting of World Cup tournaments are part and parcel of the history of the game. However, when reading back over the history of the 1934 competition, it occasionally starts to feel as if FIFA at the time were in thrall to Mussolini, allowing him to take near personal control of the competition, which is...

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