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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WC 2010 Qualification: Italia 2 x Georgia 0: Preview and Result

Political Backdrop to the Game Tonight in Udine

Kakha Kaladze
plays for AC Milan and is a veteran international star for Georgia. Many years ago, his brother was kidnapped and tragically killed in their country.

As a famous footballer from a small country whose patron happens to be the Prime Minister of Italy, he will use his celebrity in a crisis far removed from the football pitch.

“It is a dramatic situation,” said the Rossoneri defender. “There are many dead, including civilians. So as a child of my country I ask for help.

“Anyone who can: European Union, NATO, America, help us to achieve democracy and liberty by sitting round a table and finding peace again.

“I will ask Berlusconi to take action, as he holds a great deal of sway with Vladimir Putin.”
Source: Football Italia, 10 August 2008.

Mister Lippi Laments the Defensive Lapses and Gives Reasons

"Non abbiamo difensori centrali che marchino a uomo, Gli ultimi due grandi in questo senso entrambi qui in nazionale - uno gioca, ed è il capitano Cannavaro, l'altro è nel mio staff ed è Ciro Ferrara".

I difensori, fin dai loro primi passi calcistici, siano oggi abituati "a seguire la linea delle loro zona e non direttamente l'uomo da marcare. Per questo si trovano in difficoltà quando lo devono cercare. È molto più facile per chi nasce come marcatore a uomo abituarsi alla zona che non il contrario".
"We don't have central defenders that mark man to man. The last two great ones in this sense are both here in the National team. One plays, it is the Capitain, Cannavaro, and the other is in my staff, Ciro Ferrara."

"The defenders, from their first soccer experiences, are nowadays used 'to follow the line of their zone and directly mark the man. For this reason they get in trouble when they have to look for the player. It is much easier for those who grew up as a man marker to acclimate to the zone than the contrary.' "
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 10 September 2008.

Lineup for the Azzurri: 4-3-3 with the trident attack.

Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Dossena, Legrottaglie
Pirlo, De Rossi, Aquilani
Camoranesi, Toni, Di Natale

  • Gamberini, Grosso, and Gattuso were injured and did not play tonight.
  • Italics indicated the new starters.
  • Before this game, Italy was 5-1-0 against Georgia, and had never conceded a goal on Italian soil.
First Half

As expected, Georgia put many men behind the ball and let Italy dictate play.
Italy played with much more cohesion and confidence than last week in Cyprus. Camoranesi, Aquilani, and Di Natale (from a nice through ball from Toni) had the best early chance for the Azzurri.

In the 17th minute, Daniele De Rossi scored on a left footed bomb from outside the penalty area that curved into the right corner.

The best and only chance for Georgia came in the 27th minute. Renia missed two shots directly in front of Buffon, with the last one being saved, which summed up the Georgian experience on the night. The half ended, 1 x 0, with Italy dominating play on both sides of the pitch. There was better movement off of the ball than against Cyprus, and overall, the Azzurri played with more conviction.

Second Half

Palombo came on for Andrea Pirlo. A few minutes later, Del Piero replaced Di Natale, which was somewhat of a surprise. The Azzurri could not maintain their good form from the first half. Georgia had more opportunities, and the tifosi began to whistle. But in the 89th minute, from a precise assist by Del Piero, De Rossi scored his brace to provide a somewhat inflated scoreline against a much weaker opponent.

Italy leads Group 8 with six points. Ireland has four points (obtained during two away games).
"We suffered but got 6 points... It is not important to play 10 spectacular games but to play well over 10 games and qualify... We still need a better athletic conditioning, but the play was entertaining."

--- Marcello Lippi after the game.

  • There was a great ovation after the Georgian anthem. Sometimes, Italian crowds are not as sporting as they should be, and this was a nice show of support for the Georgians.
  • Hector Cuper, manager of Georgia, was a former Serie A coach.

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