Tonight at 2050 local time from Arena Garibaldi in Pisa, Italy will face Northern Ireland in a send-off friendly before the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.
For this game, Mister Lippi decided to use an experimental squad, and provided his reasons:
Source: Football Italia, 6 June 2009.
“I wanted to give an extra week’s rest to those who worked and strained the most this season,” explained the Coach.
“The final choice of 23 was completed with an eye to consistency, as the calls were based on a whole year of work.“I was particularly disappointed at having to leave out [Matteo] Brighi, [Gaetano] D’Agostino and [Giampaolo] Pazzini, as at least 26 or 27 players deserved to come to South Africa. Sadly, certain priorities have to be addressed.”
“Gattuso is fine. He’s not 100 per cent fit, but that’s enough for a thousand different reasons.”
Rino Taking One on the Chin for Milan. He is likely to be the Azzurri
Mister Lippi's Record
9 Games during his his second tenure:
4 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss.
During his two tenures as Azzurri manager, he has only lost one competitive game (2004 versus Slovenia.)
29 Games during his first tenure (2004 - 2006).
18 wins, 9 draws, 2 losses.
Azzurri Starting XI: 4-2-1-3
Santon (debut), Legrottaglie, Gamberini, Grosso
Gattuso, D'Agostino (debut)
Mascara (debut), Pazzini, Rossi, G.
Northern Ireland Will Field a Young Team
Glynn Snodin, the assistant manager, discussed the upcoming game.
“Naturally it will be a huge learning curve for them,” said Snodin, who is now first team coach at Leeds United. “But for the young players especially it is an occasion they should savour as it is not every day you play against the World Champions!”
Half of the 18-strong Northern Ireland panel which travelled to Pisa on Thursday have yet to win a cap at senior level, and the withdrawal though injury of Manchester United’s Craig Cathcart is a further blow to an already depleted squad.
“It’s a shame that Craig can’t make it,” said Snodin, “as he impressed everyone when he came for the game against San Marino in February and of course he now has the experience of playing a near full season on-loan with Plymouth in the Championship - he would certainly have won his first full cap if he had of been available.”Source: Irish Football Association, 05 June 2009.
David Healy in action against Slovenia.
Currently, Northern Ireland is top of the UEFA Group 3 World Cup Qualification table. They have not qualified for the World Cup since 1982. Tonight, they will be captained by Damien Johnson of Birmingham City. He discussed facing the Italians:
"The teams they play for are all top teams and, although it may not be their usual starting XI, the one they have used in the qualifiers, their guys are going to be like our guys and are going to be eager to impress," he said. “It is going to be a really tough game on Saturday night."Source: Irish Football Association, 06 June 2009.
George Best: Northern Ireland and World Football Legend
Northern Ireland Lineup: 4-5-1
Johnson, Casment, Coates, McGivern
Little, O'Connor, Evans, McCann, Carson
In the 21st minute, Giuseppe Rossi scored his first goal in Azzurro with a long-range shot from the the top of the box that bent outside into the near post. Tuffey seemed to expect him to shoot at the other side.
The Azzurri controlled the pace against an equally young and inexperienced Irish side. The half ended, 1 x 0.
In the 53rd minute, from a nice through ball by Rossi, Pasquale Foggia dribbled past a few defenders and then chipped the ball softly over Tuffey. Two minutes later, Pazzini missed from the spot as the ball was parried against the inside of the left post.
In the 72nd minute, Sergio Pellissier chested the ball down and struck a left-footed volley for the third Italian goal.
A very good effort by an experimental side will give Mister Lippi more options for the future; however, out of many debutants tonight, only Santon made the roster for the Confederations Cup. Young Davide looked as comfortable here as he does with Internazionale. Another great product from the Italian youth system.
My Man of the Match: Giuseppe Rossi.
Mister Lippi after the Game on Radio RAI
"Great enthusiam. It surprised me a little. It was a great victory despite the level of the opposition, and a good message. I am very satisfied with the effort. Santon was great."The Azzurri will face New Zealand in Pretoria on 10 June. It will be their last friendly before the 15 June opener of the Confederations Cup against the USA.