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Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 Confederations Cup: Italia 3 x USA 1 from Tshwane/Pretoria: Brace by Giuseppe Rossi

Image of Marcello Lippi courtesy of Paul Blank

Image courtesy of FIFA

The Azzurri will face the USA in their first group round game of the 2009 Confederations Cup. The game will take place at the Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at 1200 meters of altitude.

Mister Lippi Respects the USA

GLI USA — "Sono diversi da quelli affrontati al Mondiale. Il figlio dell’allenatore, che gioca a centrocampo, è molto bravo. Ci sono sempre Donovan, Demsey, Beasley. Giocano con il 4-4-2 con Donovan in appoggio. E’ una squadra preparata fisicamente, da affrontare con grande attenzione".

"They are different than who we faced at the World Cup. The son of the coach (Michael Bradley), who plays in midfield, is very good. There are always Donovan, Dempsey, Beasley. They play a 4-4-2 with Donovan in support. It is a physically prepared team to be taken on with great attention."

Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 14 June 2009.

Gigi Leads the Azzurri

Didier Drogba Chelsea 2008/09
Gigi Buffon will captain the Azzurri tonight in Pretoria and win his 93rd cap
for Italy.

Landon Donovan Remembers Their Last Encounter in Germany: 1 x 1

Honduras v United States FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifier
Landon Donovan is the all-time leading scorer for the USA.

"That was one of the most memorable games in my career," said Donovan. "It gives me goose bumps just talking about it. I remember seeing all the fans walking up the hill to the stadium,” said the U.S. Men’s National Team’s all-time leading scorer. “We had the big U.S. supporters section, the Italian fans, and all of the soldiers from Ramstein Air Force base who had come to support us. Even during the national anthem, I remember both teams singing so passionately. It was among the loudest I have ever heard."

"We went through a lot of difficult circumstances in the game," Donovan recalled. “There were the emotions of going down a goal in a game that we needed, then equalizing, then the high of going up a man, thinking we have a real chance to win, to then getting a man sent off just before halftime. At that point we felt a little bit deflated, but at the same time we knew that likely if we got a point we were still alive. The way were playing, we felt like we could pull off a play to win this game."

"To get a point from that game considering all that happened, playing against a team of that quality and down a man for that long, felt like a win,” he said. “Not only that, but we were very proud of the way we played. We didn't just defend, we gave everything we had to try and win the game. It was one of our best performances ever as a national team."
Source: US Soccer.com.

The Lineups (23 players may suit up for this competition versus the normal 18.)

ITALIA: 1 Buffon, 3 Grosso, 4 Chiellini, 6 Legrottaglie, 19 Zambrotta, 8 Gattuso, 21 Pirlo, 10 De Rossi, 16 Camoranesi, 11 Gilardino, 15 Iaquinta.

A disp (bench)
: 2 Santon, 5 Cannavaro, 7 Pepe, 9 Toni, 12 De Sanctis, 13 Gamberini, 14 Amelia, 17 Rossi, 18 Palombo, 20 Montolivo, 22 Dossena, 23 Quagliarella.

USA: 1 Howard, 2 Bornstein, 21 Spector, 15 DeMerit, 5 Onyewu, 13 Clark, 12 Bradley, 22 Feilhaber, 8 Dempsey, 10 Donovan, 17 Altidore.

A disp (bench)
: 3 Bocanegra, 4 Casey, 6 Pearce, 7 Beasley, 9 Davies, 11 Wynne, 14 Califf, 16 Kljestan, 18 Guzan, 19 Adu, 20 Torres, 23 Robles.

ARBITRO (Referee): Pablo Pozo (Chile)

Source: Corriere dello Sport.

First Half

Both managers fielded very physical lineups. Italy debuted with their new jerseys, which was a lighter blue hue than the traditional "Azzurro." The USA was in all-white kit, and the field conditions were dry. Nine World Champions took the field for the Azzurri. Five of whom were Juventus players.

Both teams were cautious. Clint Dempsey had the first real chance for the Americans, but his free kick sailed wide right. Fabio Grosso was creating problems on the left flank, but in the first 15 minutes, the Azzurri had no shots on goal. A few minutes later, Legrottaglie had a diving header from a cross that nearly beat Tim Howard.

In the 25th minute, from a crisp counter-attack, the USA had their best opportunity, but Mike Bradley shot very weakly with only Buffon to beat. Then it happened once again on a fast counter, but this time, Jozy Altidore stroked a very tame (he appeared to mis hit the ball) shot from inside the area.

In the 34th minute, Ricardo Clark went studs up against Rino Gattuso as was shown a straight red card by Mr. Pozo. Directly after, Fabio Grosso elbowed Landon Donovan, but was only shown a yellow card. This game was beginning to resemble their last encounter in Kaiserslautern.

In the 38th minute, Jonathan Bornstein slotted an an own goal past a surprised Tim Howard, but it was not allowed due to the questionable offside position of Camoranesi. Then Chiellini was called for a foul in the box on Altidore, and Landon Donovan beat Buffon to the right corner.

0 x 1 USA in a very strange match...

Second Half

The Azzurri looked very nervous as they pressed forward for the equalizer. They were flat without much imagination. The USA looked dangerous on the counter, and were given too much space by the Italian defense.

In the 57th minute, Mister Lippi introduced Riccardo Montolivo and Giuseppe Rossi for Gattuso and Camoranesi, respectively. Perhaps with the purpose to inject some speed and ideas into the equation. Giuseppe Rossi scored immediately (in the 58th) with a beautifully struck left footed shot from about 25 meters that beat Howard.

The goal energized the Azzurri, and they began to fire on all cylinders. They pushed forward, and had several shots on goal by Iaquinta, Zambrotta, and Gilardino. Charlie Davies came on for Jozy Altidore for the first tactical change by Mr. Bradley.

Luca Toni replaced Gilardino in the 69th minute. Shortly followed by DaMarcus Beasley for Feilhaber for the Americans.

Then Daniele De Rossi blasted a long-range diagonal shot in the 72nd minute to give Italy the lead. It was a great shot to the right corner, and Howard had no chance. The goal seemed to dampen the US spirits, and provide further momentum to the Azzurri.

Sasha Kljestan came on for Bornstein in the 86th minute as Mr. Bradley looked for the equalizer. The USA looked very tired, but still fought to the end. Kljestan curled a nice shot that almost dipped under the crossbar. Luca Toni had two clear chances, but could not beat Howard.

In the 3rd mintue of injury time, Rossi scored again on a half volley with a perfect cross by Andrea Pirlo.

Born in the USA

A great effort by both teams. No doubt, it was an emotional day for Giuseppe Rossi, a young man who took the soccer road less traveled. A boy who went to Italy at the age of 13 after growing up in the desert of world football. Some fans, along with the media, have questioned Rossi's decision to play for his ancestral country.

Few question Freddy Adu about playing for the USA instead of Ghana, which was the place of his birth. If you look at both young men, who is further along professionally without all of the hype and unrealistic demands of being the next Pele'?

Giuseppe Rossi...

Up next for Italy will be Egpyt, who gave the Brazilians all they could handle earlier today (4 x 3). The Americans will face the Samba Kings.

Post-Match Comments by Lippi and Rossi

"All'inizio abbiamo sofferto la loro dinamicità, corsa e forza. C'era un pò troppa tensione da parte nostra, abbiamo sentito questa partita e giocato poco. Il rigore ci può stare, con il vantaggio della superiorità numerica la squadra ha giocato e creato occasioni. Sono contento per la doppietta di Rossi". Per Lippi, l'Italia ha sempre il cuore "mondiale": "Sì, questa squadra ce l'ha: può giocare male o sbagliare come oggi all'inizio, ma il cuore ce l'ha di sicuro".
"At the start, we suffered by their dynamism, running, and force. There was a little too much tension on our part, we felt this game and created little. The penalty was correct, with the numerical advantage the team played and created opportunities."

Does the team have a World Cup heart?

"Yes, this team has heart: it can play poorly or make mistakes like today in the beginning, but it surely has heart." --- Marcello Lippi
"Sono contento per il risultato, tre punti importanti e una doppietta che mi fa molto piacere. Una dedica? Alla famiglia in America. È stata una partita difficile, gli Usa sono una squadra tosta che corre molto, lotta molto. Nel secondo tempo erano più stanchi, abbiamo fatto tre gol ed è finita".
"I am glad for the result, 3 important points and a brace that makes me very pleased. A dedication? To the family in America. It was a very difficult game, the USA is a very good team that runs a lot and fights a great deal. In the second half they were more tired, and we scored three goals to close it out." --- Giuseppe Rossi
Italian Source: Gazzetta dello Sport, 16 June 2009.

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