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Saturday, March 28, 2009

WCQ Group 8: Montenegro 0 x Italy 2: The Class and Quality of Andrea Pirlo

Sports News - February 12, 2009



Comments by Mister Lippi Before the Game

“The tension was stirred up even more by Montenegro Coach Zoran Filipovic, who warned Italy would engage in “simulation and time-wasting” to get points in Podgorica this evening.

“It is only normal that ahead of an important match a tactician wants to sprinkle a bit of pepper on proceedings,” smiled Lippi.

"The thing we have to watch out for is a young and fired up team like Montenegro. They have the enthusiasm and motivation of wanting to beat the world champions.

As for my side, I expect determination and enthusiasm, the characteristics all teams need to show their real worth on the pitch.”
Source: Football Italia, 28 March 2009.

Azzurri Lineup
: 4-3-3

Buffon

Grosso, Chiellini, Cannavaro (captain), Zambrotta

De Rossi, Palombo, Pirlo

Di Natale, Iaquinta, Quagliarella

First Half

The crowd was small, passionate, and very sporting. The play was balanced, and the young Montenegrans showed no fear against the world champions.

In the seventh minute, Antonio Di Natale fell to the ground, grimacing in pain, without any contact. Replays showed that he slipped on the turf and turned his knee in an unnatural position. He was stretchered off and replaced by Simone Pepe.

In the 11th minute, Andrea Pirlo converted a penalty kick with a deft chip past Poleksic. Batak had handled his previous cross in the box, and the referee, Mr. Atkinson of England, pointed to the spot. From that point, the Azzurri controlled the tempo of the match. Neither side created many goal-scoring opportunities, although Montenegro had more possession. The half ended, 0 x 1.



Second Half

In the first part of the half, the Azzurri increased the pressure looking to close out the game. But it didn't come easily, and Gigi Buffon was forced to make a great one handed save (his only one of the night) on Vukcevic. A few minutes later in the 74th, Giampaolo Pazzini, who had just come on for Iaquinta, headed home a perfect left-footed cross by Pepe from the right flank.

Mister Lippi After the Game
"We deserved it. The first half was equal... It was a shame to lose Di Natale like that.
You feel in the heart, the sensation, after a year and a half, of a new country here...

In the second half, we demonstrated our superiority. Pazzini was exceptional."
Source: Radio RAI Sports.

Group 8 World Cup Qualification Table



Notes
  • This was Fabio Cannavaro's 123rd cap. He is three shy of tying Paolo Maldini for the all-time Italian record.
  • Ireland drew, 1 x 1, with Bulgaria in Dublin, to fall 2 points behind.
  • Giorgio Chiellini, who wore a protective face mask, reinjured his facial/nose area and required treatment on two occasions.
  • The severity of Di Natale's injury will be evaluated tomorrow. He definitely will miss the next match with Ireland. It remains to be seen if Mister Lippi calls in a replacement.
  • Again, the Azzurri did enough to win but were not impressive against a less talented side. This team under Mr. Lippi rarely scores more than two goals, and does not create enough palle gol (goal scoring opportunities.) The defensive scheme was solid; however, a creative element on the front line was missing. Giuseppe Rossi did not play tonight. Against a higher quality opponent, such as Ireland next week, his inclusion will be integral.
  • My Man of the Match: Andrea Pirlo. Although Pazzini was very impressive in a substitute role in his Azzurri debut.
Update on Di Natale

UEFA Cup match: Zenit St Petersburg vs Udinese
Apparently, he suffered an injury to the ACL and surrounding regions that require further evaluation with regards to a treatment plan.

Enrico Castellacci, medico della nazionale, ha chiarito meglio la situazione: ''Il fatto che si tratti di una lesione parziale rende meno grave del temuto l'infortunio. Verra' valutato se optare per una terapia conservativa o se ricorrere all'intervento chirurgico. In questo caso per Antonio la stagione sarebbe finita e lo stop agonistico sarebbe nell'ordine di 5-6 mesi. Mentre nel primo caso il ragazzo potrebbe anche recuperare per giocare le ultime gare della stagione''.

Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 29 March 2009.

Professor Castellacci, team doctor of the Azzurri, clarified Di Natale's situation:
"The fact that one finds a partial lesion (to the knee) makes the injury less serious than feared initially. A surgical or conservative therapy option will be evaluated. In this case (surgery), Antonio's season would be over and he would be out for about 5 to 6 months. While in the other case, the lad will be able to recover for the last games of this season."

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