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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Italy 2 x Scotland 0: Euro 2008 Qualifier

Calcio Connection

28 March 2007

Bari, Puglia. Stadio San Nicola.

Italy entered this game in fourth place in a very competitive group behind Scotland +5, France +5, and Ukraine, +2, respectively. Scotland has played an extra game, and Ukraine defeated Georgia earlier in the day to move five points clear of the Azzurri. To say this was a must-win game is putting matters lightly. Gigi Buffon had a stomach virus for a few days before the match; however, being the great competitor that he is, played this match. This was the seventh game hosted by Bari, and the Azzurri have never lost or tied a game here. Between Italy and Scotland, this was the 9th competitive game. With the exception of a victory by Scotland on home turf in 1962, Italy has won six (including tonight), and drawn the rest of the games.

There was a festive atmosphere in the stadium. Scotland was supported by 6,000 of their "Tartan Army" of traveling, but very spirited fans.
Donadoni fielded a 4-3-2-1 formation. Interestingly, Andrea Pirlo, the playmaker of the World Cup, was not included. Scotland fielded a very defensive formation with a lone striker, Kenny Miller. The Azzurri attacked from the start, and created many chances. Luca Toni was the target man in the box, and in the 11th minute, scored on a powerful header from a precise free kick by Massimo Oddo. Scotland did not react to the goal, and Italy kept moving forward looking for more goals. The only real threat by the Scots was a shot late in the half by McCulloch that was handled by Buffon without any problems. Cannavaro closed down the very quick Kenny Miller on several occasions. Materazzi was anchoring the defense. Oddo had several free kicks, and was the only Italian player to take set pieces (with the exception of corner kicks).

At the start of the second half, Di Natale had an excellent chance to score on a breakaway; however, a great save by Gordon kept the Scots in the game. Two minutes later, from a nice feed by Luca Toni, Di Natale wasted another opportunity with a leg save by Gordon. The Azzurri were trying to close out this game against a tough if unspectacular Scotland side. Throughout the game, Italy played very swiftly and efficiently. Along with a lot of movement off of the ball. In the 70th minute, from a cross by Camoranesi, an unmarked Toni scored again from a header. That effectively ended the game.

This was the best collective play by the Azzurri under the Donadoni reign. Let's hope that it continues. The next qualification games will occur in June against the Faroe Islands and Lithuania, respectively. Both will be road games. With this result, Italy rises to second place with 10 points. Ukraine, Scotland, and France, have 12 points, respectively. Georgia has 6 points, Lithuania has 4, and the Faroe Islands have none. The top two teams qualify for Euro 2008, which will be held in Austria and Switzerland.



Buffon, Oddo, Materazzi, Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Gattuso, De Rossi, Camoranesi, Perrotta, Di Natale, and Toni. CT: Mister Donadoni.

Scotland: 4-4-1-1

Gordon, Alexander, McManus, Weir, Naysmith, Teale, Brown, Ferguson, Hartley, McCulloch, and Miller. CT: Mister McLeish.

Referee: Mister De Bleeckere of Belgium.


Italy: Del Piero for Di Natale: 65th minute. Pirlo for Perrotta in the 76th minute. Quagliarella for Toni in the 86th minute.

Scotland: Maloney for Teale in the 66th minute. Boyd for McCulloch in the 80th minute. Beattie for Brown in the 85th minute.


Italy: 11th minute and 70th minute by Luca Toni.

Video of the goals.

Game Statistics (Italy listed first).

Shots (on Goal) 12 (8) -- 4 (2)

Saves: 4 -- 9

Possession: 55% -- 45%

Corners: 3 -- 4

Fouls: 13 -- 20

Offsides: 6 -- 4

Yellow and Red Cards: None.

Attendance: 37,500. Field condition: Dry.



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