This is almost an intrasquad game at the very highest level. Half of the Brasilians play in the Serie A, and the rest are well-known to the Azzurri. The Emirates is a home away from for "O Selecao." This marks their fourth visit to the North London ground of Arsenal FC.
Marcello Lippi observed the familiarity factor in his pre-game comments:
"Ci conosciamo molto bene: loro hanno tanta bravura, tanta qualità. Non c'è Kakà, è vero, ma hanno tantissimi grandi campioni, come Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho e tanti altri. Tecnicamente il Brasile è la nazionale più forte al mondo. Nel 2006 erano i favoriti per la vittoria nel Mondiale."
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 09 February 2009.
"We know each other well: they have such bravura, such quality. Kaka' is missing, it's true, but they have so many great champions, such as Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho and many others. Technically, Brasil is the strongest national team in the world. In 2006, they were the favorites to win the World Cup."Lippi on Verge of a Coaching Record
Mister Lippi is on a 31 game unbeaten strike during his two tenures as Azzurri boss. A tie or win tonight will give him the world record at the international level.
Carlos Dunga: Another old Azzurri Acquaintance
Dunga played for Pisa and Fiorentina, respectively, during his Serie A career. Now in his third year of managing Brasil, he noted the special feelings of this rivalry.
"Molti giocatori erano in campo domenica, alcuni hanno fatto viaggi lunghi e non è stato possibile fare un lavoro di preparazione - dice alla vigilia - Ma quando si gioca contro l'Italia troviamo sempre degli stimoli speciali. Anche se un'amichevole non è mai una partita di Coppa del Mondo, ci sono molte cose in gioco."
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 09 February 2009.
"Many players played on Sunday, some had to make long trips and it wasn't possible to do much preparation. But when you play against Italy we always find special stimulants. Even if a friendly is never a World Cup game."All-time record: 5-5-2
This is their first meeting since 1997 (3 x 3 in Lyon, France), and the last time Italy won was at World Cup 1982. Azzurri captain, Fabio Cannavaro, played in the last game. Tonight will be his 122nd cap for Italy. He needs five more to set the all-time record. Which if things go according to schedule, will occur at the Confederations Cup in South Africa next June.
Zambrotta, Legrottaglie, Cannavaro, Grosso
Pirlo, De Rossi
Pepe, Di Natale, Montolivo
Maicon, Lucio, Juan,
Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Elano
Referee: Mr. Howard Webb of England.
Fabio Grosso scored an apparent goal after 5 minutes that was ruled offside. Andrea Pirlo took a free kick, and Grosso struck it on the volley past Julio Cesar. Both teams were not conceding much space, and the game was played at a good rhythm. In the 13th minute, with a classic triangle started by Ronaldinho, then a quick 1-2 from Robinho to Elano. Nicola Legrottaglie, who got a boot on the ball, could not clear it out, and Elano finished past a helpless Buffon.
Brasil were much more organized defensively, and significantly quicker on the counterattack. In the 27th minute, Andrea Pirlo lost the ball deep in the area, and Robinho performed his magic. He went around three players, did a few step overs, left Gianluca Zambrotta in the dust, and blasted the ball into the corner on a tight angle past Buffon who came off of his line. The Azzurri looked very apprenhensive in their defensive half. They could not match the quickness and technical quality of the Brasilians. Dunga's game plan was executed with perfection.
The half ended, 2 x 0.
Mister Lippi, being a very experienced and wise manager, took advantage of the additional substitution limits (6), and made four changes: Giuseppe Rossi, Luca Toni, Simone Perrotta, and Mauro Camoranesi replaced Di Natale, Pepe, Montolivo, and Gilardino, respectively. Rossi had an immediate effort sail just wide of Julio Cesar. In fact, he seemed to inject a dose of quickness that was severly lacking in the Azzurri from the first half. He created three or four good chances on his own. And one to Luca Toni that the Bayern Munich man wasted in the area.
Italy were more compact and organized. They seemed to throttle the potent Brasilian attack with much more purpose than in the first half. In the 65th minute, Toni brought the ball down with his hand in front of his Bayern teammate, Lucio, before scoring past Julio Cesar. He seemed to look in amazement when Mr. Webb disallowed the goal.
In the 80th minute, Rossi again created problems deep in the Brazilian area. He went around the defense, and from the byline, crossed in front to Toni, whose first time shot was saved by Julio Cesar.
Brasil showed the limits of this Italian team, but it was a very entertaining game. Mister Lippi has time to make adjustments. I felt he had the wrong team on the pitch in the first half. They could not match up to the quickness of Brasil. But one noted his major changes at the break. That is why he is one of the best managers in the world, but tonight, Carlos Dunga had the better tactical plan.
Post Game Comments
"In questo momento il Brasile è più forte dell'Italia, tra un anno mezzo vedremo, potremmo essere più forti noi..."Se vogliamo tornare a essere competitivi dobbiamo affrontare le migliori con un'altra mentalità."
"Una delle migliori partite che abbiamo giocato - dice il c.t. della Selecao - avevamo studiato l'Italia, ci siamo allenati soprattutto sulla tattica. Abbiamo vinto con grande qualità e grinta, ma bisogna essere anche umili per essere grandi."
"At this moment, Brasil is stronger than Italy, but within a year and a half we shall see, we could be stronger... If we want to return to be competitive we have to take on the better teams with another mentality." Marcello LippiSource: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 10 February 2009.
"One of the best games that we have played. We had studied Italy, we trained above all on tactics. We won with great quality and determination, but you have to be humble to be great." Carlos Dunga