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Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Confederations Cup: Italia 0 x Egypt 1 from Ellis Park in Johannesburg

CONFE CUP CANNAVARO
Fabio Cannavaro, the Captain and symbol of the Azzurri. Tonight will
be his 125th cap for Italy. "The Berlin Wall" was the 2006 FIFA World
Player of the Year, and also won the Ballon d'Or by France Football.

Tonight at 2030 local time, Italy faces the champions from Africa, Egypt, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Egyptians gave Brasil all they could handle in their first match, and lost on a controversial penalty near the death.

Mister Lippi Compliments the Pharaohs

Una squadra «esperta vista anche l'età media dei giocatori» e «che corre» come una formazione di giovani. «Contro il Brasile l'Egitto ha mostrato un'ottima organizzazione di gioco. Credo però che la Selecao abbia anche pagato a livello fisico il fatto di essere arrivata qui solo da pochi giorni».
A team who is "expert given the average age of their players" and "who runs" like a much younger team. "Against Brasil, Egypt demonstrated an optimal organization of play. I believe that the Brazilians also paid, on a physical level, the fact that they arrived here only a few days ago."
SOCCER: JUN 18 Confederation Cup - Egypt v Italy
Mohamed Zidan and Giorgio Chiellini.

"This Team has a Heart and a Soul."

«Siamo sicuramente in grado di giocare meglio, e lo faremo. Ho detto loro - ha riferito Lippi - che qualsiasi cosa si possa dire dell'altra sera, questa squadra ha un'anima e un cuore. Possiede una compattezza come poche altre squadre al mondo. Nessuno deve dubitare di queste doti, anzi le dobbiamo esaltare».
"We are surely able to play better, and we will do it. I told them that whatever you can say about the other night, this team has a heart and soul. It possesses a compactness like few other teams. Nobody can doubt these qualities, actually we should praise them."
When asked if Rossi would start?

«Contro l'Egitto gioca Giuseppe Rossi? Lo saprete domani sera al momento di scendere in campo».
"You will find out tomorrow night when they take the field."
Italian Source: Corrierre dello Sport, 17 June 2009.

I think we will see Giuseppe Rossi from the first minute, along with a few other changes... :-)

Starting Lineups

ITALIA (4-3-3): 1 Buffon; 19 Zambrotta, 5 Cannavaro, 4 Chiellini, 3 Grosso; 8 Gattuso, 10 De Rossi, 21 Pirlo; 11 Rossi, 15 Iaquinta, 23 Quagliarella.

A disp. (Bench) 14 Amelia, 12 De Sanctis, 2 Santon, 6 Legrottaglie, 22 Dossena, 13 Gamberini, 18 Palombo, 20 Montolivo, 7 Pepe, 16 Camoranesi, 11 Gilardino, 9 Toni.


Ct. (Manager) Mister Lippi

EGITTO (Egypt) (5-3-2): 1 El Hadary; 7 Fathi, 4 A. Said, 20 Gomaa, 6 H. Said, 14 Moawad; 11 Shawky, 8 Abd Rabou, 12 Homos; 9 Zidan, 22 Aboutrika.

A disp. (Bench) 16 Wahid, 23 Sobhi, 2 Fathallah, 5 Khairy, 17 Hassan, 13 Tawfiq, 15 Farag, 18 Abdelghany, 21 Raouf, 10 Ahmed Eid, 19 Abougrisha.


Ct. (Manager) Mister Shehata

Referee: Mr. Hansson of Sweden.

Source: Corrierre dello Sport, 18 June 2009.

First Half

Field conditions were dry, but the pitch looked very ragged. There were empty seats at Ellis Park, and the Italian announcers claimed that there was a traffic jam outside of the stadium.

Egypt lined up with 5 defenders who were man-marking the Italians. They were very organized, but unlike most defensive formations, looked to move forward. This is a very good side who are well-coached with quality players.

The first real chance for Italy came in the 12th minute. Giuseppe Rossi attempted a shot from the left side of the box that sailed over the bar. Egypt was very crisp and patient. Fabio Cannavaro looked very sharp, and contained the main threat, Mohamed Zidan. In the 25th minute, Rossi again had a very good effort saved as El-Hadary tipped the dipping ball over the crossbar. It was one of the few opportunities for the Azzurri.

In the 39th minute, Hosni struck a ball from just outside the half moon. Gigi Buffon deftly pushed it over the top. It was their first good chance, and seemed to awaken their offensive confidence. A minute later, from a corner kick, Homos had a free header that beat Buffon to the lower right hand corner to give the Pharaohs a surprising but well-deserved lead. The Azzurri lacked continuity, and seemed frustrated by the Egyptian defensive scheme. They also had very little pace with this lineup. Iaquinta looked out of place up front, and age was starting to show with Zambrotta and Rino Gattuso.

SOCCER: JUN 18 Confederation Cup - Egypt v Italy
Homos outjumps De Rossi to score the match winner.

The half ended, 0 x 1.

Second Half

The Azzurri pushed forward with urgency. In the 54th minute, Iaquinta had a one on one with the keeper, but couldn't finish. A few minutes later, Montolivo and Toni came on for Gattuso and Rossi, respectively. This changed seemed to add more pace to the midfield. In the 56th minute, Pirlo barely missed from a free kick. Then Pepe came on for Quagliarella. He added a lot of speed down the right flank.

Then came a series of near misses and great saves by the Egyptian keeper, Al-Hadary, who was the man of the match in my opinion. Iaquinta missed twice, and had one brilliantly saved. Montolivo had another clear chance in front of the goal saved by Al-Hadary. Iaquinta missed again from close in, and then struck the top left angle of the pole.

The goal was like a magnet...

Historic Win for Egypt, Azzurri on the Brink

But hats off to the Pharaohs. This was a well-deserved historic win. They are very skilled, organized, and have an excellent team spirit.

The Azzurri demonstrated their lack of pace, ideas, and lack of finishing. Luca Toni again added very little to the equation at this level. Club side, he seems to be a much different striker. Gattuso, coming off of a serious injury, is not the force he used to be. This team needs an injection of youth and pace to balance the "Senators." No doubt Mister Lippi will find the right mix, but he won't have much time. Brasil awaits on Sunday in Pretoria.

Next Sunday will decide the group, and it might be the last game for Italy in this short competition. The Azzurri will face their eternal rivals, and Egypt can book their passage to the semi-finals with a win over the USA. But all will be decided on the pitch.
This was only the second competitive loss (fourth overall) since Mister Lippi first took the Azzurri reins in 2004. He was last beaten by Slovenia during WC 2006 qualification.
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