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Friday, May 30, 2008

Italy 3 x Belgium 1: Friendly in Florence, Italy

Tonight at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, the Azzurri remained undefeated after 23 games in Florence.

They were very precise, organized, and appeared to fire on all cylinders. Since this will be the only warm-up before their first game against The Netherlands at Euro 2008, Mr. Donadoni should be very pleased.

Antonio Di Natale was the star tonight with a brace. The first, as you will seen in the video, was a clinical right-footed volley from a pass by Andrea Pirlo in the 9th minute. He followed this effort with another goal, this time from an assist by Alberto Acquilani, in the 42nd minute. The Belgians offered very little resistance, and as RAI game announcer, Marco Civoli said, in English, "sparring partner."

The second half saw several changes, along with the debut of Antonio Cassano for the first time since September 2006. Mauro Camoranesi scored from a brilliant pass by Alessandro Del Piero in the 49th minute to effectively end the game. After that, the young Belgians seemed to have more life, and gave the Azzurri a better test. During injury time, Sonck scored a header past Gigi Buffon for a consolation goal.

  • Luca Toni was not whistled by the Fiorentina fans, and received applause when he left the game in the second half.
  • Antonio Cassano was the recipient of several hard challenges, but did not lose his composure.
  • Andrea Pirlo appeared in his 53rd game of the 2007-2008 season.
  • 14 out of the 23 man Azzurri roster are veterans of World Cup 2006.
  • Andrea Barzagli is becoming more of a presence in defense. In fact, Marco Materazzi did not play at all.

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