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Disaster: Slovakia 3 – Italy 2: Lippi Takes Blame for Ouster

Posted By: The Annotico Report, Italia Mia Network on June 24, 2010 in Annotico Report, Italy - Comments: No Comments »

The Key to the game of Soccer is CONTROL, particularly control of the MIDFIELD, MIDFIELD, MIDFIELD.  Slovakia Controlled the Midfield.
Therefore Slovakia were able to blunt any attack by Italy, and able to mount easy attacks against Italy.  
The AZZURRI were slow, sluggish, because of age, or because Italy traditionally starts slow like a thoroughbred winner that runs at the back of the pack, and then unleashes it's conserved intensity at the end, and creams it's exhausted adversaries.
Nah, for the first three quarters of the match Italy was weirdly sluggish and somnolent. For the first 62 minutes they could not even muster a single shot on target. Also not only was Italy's defense porous with Italy defenders letting Slovakia attackers run by them uncontested constantly, but Marchetti, the goal keeper was mediocre. 
Yes, Italy was without Stars Buffon and Pirlo who were out with injuries, but other teams had similar burdens. Yes,Italy's two disallowed goals were questionable, but never leave the game in the hands of the referees. Yes, Slovakia had NO recognizable talent vs an Italian star studded team, but the Italians played like they had their resumes in hand and expected surrender. Then, they only lost by one goal.
No consolation. It was a Disaster, and Lippi was gracious in taking the blame, BUT he can't play the game !!!!

Slovakia 3 Italy 2: Match Report

World Cup 2010 Group F game between Slovakia and Italy at the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg on Wednesday June 24 2010. 

London Telegraph;  By Ian Chadband;  24 Jun 2010Thursday, June 24 15:00; Group F Match 41
GOALS: SLOVAKIA ; Vittek, (25,73), Kopunek (89) ITALY; DiNatale (81), Quagliarella (90+2)
Italy's great footballing heritage was almost shamefully betrayed when the Azzurri class of 2010, masquerading absurdly as world champions, surrendered their crown amid remarkable drama here at Ellis Park.
Fifteen minutes of blind fighting spirit at the death could not hide the probability that we had been watching the worst defending World Cup holders of all. Marcello Lippi, a proud man, recognised as much, taking all the responsibility for this debacle.
It really ought to have been a day to be celebrating the underdog, as Slovakia in their first World Cup earned a victory for the ages, a win quite thoroughly deserved because for three quarters of the match they quite outplayed the weirdly sluggish and somnolent champions. Instead, the rest of then world was hypnotised by what must have been one of the most pitiful performances in Azzurri blue ever witnessed.
North Korea ’66? It surely had nothing on this. The nation of Maldini, Tardelli, Riva, Rivera and Baggio can only have shuddered, completely incredulous by just how bereft of talent, of ambition and of ideas this team was, as all the worst fears about the poverty-stricken nature of their squad were rudely realised.
The madness of an extraordinary last quarter of an hour when a team of blue-shirted zombies, two down to a double from Robert Vittek, deigned to come alive could not camouflage Italy’s dismal failings. Two late goals felt like a band aid on an amputation. Unbelievably, for the first 62 minutes, Italy were so bad they could not even muster a single shot on target.
There will be a few Italians who will still be whining today about the idea that an equaliser for Quagliarella, the one spark of light among the gloom when he was brought on at half time, was ruled out when Italy were two down but the linesman probably got a hair’s breadth decision right.
If the goal had counted, Italy would probably have escaped with the point they needed but perhaps it was a mercy because somewhere in the knock out stages, the creaking maestro which we once used to recognise as Fabio Cannavaro, would doubtless have been found out. Has an Italian national team ever defended more poorly?
Daniele De Rossi was supposed to be Italy’s tower of strength but after 25 minutes, he slid a criminally poor pass out of defence which was picked off by Juraj Kucka. His neat through ball was in turn despatched on the half-turn by Vittek with considerable aplomb.
It was truly sad to see Cannavaro reduced, through his lack of pace, to a shameless body check on Juraj Kucka, which earned a booking from Howard Webb. The Rotherham official showed mercy a few minutes later, though, when the captain also clumsily fouled Hamsik.
Where talent had gone missing, ugliness and cynicism took over. Gennaro Gattuso - who else? - left Zdenko Strba with a huge gash on his knee with one follow through lunge.
Lippi thankfully took off the old Rottweiler off at the break, introducing Quagliarella. Far too late, he will probably concede today, because the Napoli man did make a difference, almost earning an equaliser when his fierce volley was cleared almost inadvertently off the line. Martin Skrtel’s knee may well become a national monument in Bratislava now.
Slovakia’s second goal again demonstrated how far the art of Italian defending has descended, as Girgio Chiellini was so slow to react to a low cross that Vittek was able to nip ahead of him for the second.
Then the fun really started. Thank heavens Italy at last responded with vigour or this team would never have been allowed back at Rome airport. Di Natale slid the ball home on the rebound after Quagliarella's shot, before the offside incident.
From Peter Pekarik’s quick throw, Kopunek, with practically his first touch, lifted the ball brilliantly over Federico Marchetti to reestablish the cushion, before Quagliarella, deep into injury time, floated home an exquisite chip.
What a goal to remind Italy of glories past. A distant memory, though; the Italy of 2010 was represented by Simone Pepe’s pitiful last gasp volley which trickled tamely wide. That’s how it should have been because it felt as if we had been watching impostors pretending to be Italian World Cup footballers.
===================================================================================================================
Italy Coach Blames Himself for Early Exit
The New York Times; By Jere Longman; June 24, 2010
JOHANNESBURG — Like a car on a frigid morning, Italy always seemed to need time for its engine to turn over at the World Cup.
In 1982, the Azzurri idled to three ties in the first round but still won the tournament. In 1994, Italy lost its opening match against Ireland, then lost goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca to a red card in its second match, before settling into a drive toward the final.
Not this time. Italy seemed to have no alternator or accelerator to provide energy and speed, no steering wheel for direction. No reliable classics, no Baresi or Baggio, no new model to roll off the assembly line like Toto Schillaci in 1990.
Finally, perhaps even mercifully, this rusted hulk of a team was towed away from the World Cup on Thursday, its battery dead, tires flat, windows smashed after a 3-2 loss to Slovakia, which was playing in its first World Cup.
While Slovakia advanced, Italy, the defending champion and a four-time winner, exited after group play for the first time since 1974, having steered far off its intended course.
A tie would have sent Italy to the second round, but even that remained elusive for a team that seemed aimless until late in the second half. Slovakia played more urgently, controlling much of the game, receiving two goals from forward Robert Vittek and refusing to be awed by Italy’s reputation. "We didn’t dominate, but I think we were better," Vittek said.
The most extraordinary act that Italy performed in this hapless World Cup was Thursday’s postgame soliloquy by its coach, Marcello Lippi, who retired after the match.
Lippi, who guided Italy to the 2006 World Cup title, blamed himself for everything that went wrong this time, from lineups to tactics to the team’s lack of inspiration and self-assurance.
“I take all responsibility for what happened because if a team shows up at such an important game, like tonight’s game, with terror in their head and heart and in their legs, and if the team is unable to express their abilities, it means the coach didn’t train the team as he should have done psychologically, technically or tactically,” Lippi, 62, said.
He did not expect to win the World Cup, Lippi said, but neither did he expect his team to play so forlornly. Repeatedly, he apologized and expressed sorrow for the outcome.
“I really firmly believe that the men I chose would have been able to deliver something different,” Lippi said. “I guess this time around I was just not capable to motivating the men as I should have done.”
There will be much discussion about what went wrong. Many have criticized Lippi for relying on aging players, like defender Fabio Cannavaro, 36, and midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, 32, who both showed their years against Slovakia.
The forwards he favored, like Alberto Gilardino, did not deliver here. And perhaps Lippi was too stubborn and loyal to call earlier on a reserve like Fabio Quagliarella, who played inspired on Thursday in the second half but was unable to lift his team fully from its torpor.
Injuries did not help. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, one of the best in the world, left Italy’s opening match and was told he had a herniated disk in his back. The playmaker Andrea Pirlo injured a calf muscle before the World Cup began and did not appear until the 56th minute on Thursday.
It did not help, either, that creative players like Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero had retired from the national team, or that an emerging player like Giuseppe Rossi was not chosen.
There was some bad luck, too, especially on Thursday. A shot by Quagliarella was stopped in the 67th minute, perhaps past the goal line, by the right knee of Slovak defender Martin Skrtel. Quagliarella put the ball into the net in the 85th minute but was ruled offside.        [RAA : I dare you to watch that replay!! ]
Lippi did not complain about the controversial plays, finding much more fault with himself and his team than with the officiating. Surely his players will have to join their coach in accepting some responsibility for Italy’s failure.
“I just didn’t create the necessary psychological dynamics and the players didn’t play right,” Lippi said. “They didn’t press; they didn’t build. They didn’t do anything.”
In the 25th minute, midfielder Daniele de Rossi made a careless pass that was intercepted by Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik. He passed to Vittek, who split two defenders and buried a shot from the top of the penalty area to put Italy down, 1-0.
After a corner kick in the 73rd minute, Slovakia went ahead, 2-0, when Hamsik again found Vittek, who beat defender Giorgio Chiellini and goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who was caught between standing up and going to the ground.
Forward Antonio Di Natale scored for Italy on a tap-in in the 81st minute as Italy finally slipped into gear. But moments after entering the game, Kamil Kopunek chipped a shot over Marchetti in the 89th minute to pull Slovakia ahead, 3-1.
Quagliarella finally delivered an official goal in added time, drawing Italy to 3-2, but it was not enough. At the final whistle, the Slovak players began to dance and belly-flop onto the turf at Ellis Park, while Quagliarella could only lie on his back in disbelief.
Mighty Italy was headed home far too early. When last seen, its emergency lights were flashing.

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