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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Italia 1 x Mexico 2: Friendly from Brussels, Belgium: "Mexico was brilliant." Marcello Lippi

Italy's national soccer team players pose ahead of an international friendly soccer match against Mexico in Brussels
Before the game.

This was the first competitive game for the Azzurri since March and the rust was evident. A highly technical and skilled Mexican side that has played several preparatory friendlies exposed several areas of Italian weaknesses: A disorganized back four, very little creativity from the midfield and lack of finishing up front.

Mexico was Clearly the Better Side

Mexico looked as if they had an extra man. You will read Mr. Lippi's comments below about the transition from altitude to sea-level, but make no mistake. The Azzurri were a slow side last year at the Confederations Cup and the current team won't ever challenge Usain Bolt.

History tells us that Italy is a good tournament team that usually finds its groove deep into a competition. But the South African World Cup presents unique challenges in the name of altitude and winter weather. Preparation will be vital and Mr. Lippi feels that Alpine training will help the Azzurri once they arrive in Johannesburg.

Disorganized in the Back

Mexico's Vela celebrates his goal during an international friendly soccer match in Brussels
Carlos Vela of Arsenal opened the scoring as
Mexico controlled the match with ease.

Carlos Vela volleyed past a helpless Gigi Buffon as the Mexicans found space and took advantage of a new Azzurri back four of Bonucci, Cannavaro, Criscito and Zambrotta. Alberto Medina doubled the lead late in the match before the Azzurri pulled one back by Leonardo Bonucci.

Typical Slow Start

Italy's coach Lippi reacts during an international friendly soccer match against Mexico in Brussels
Mister Lippi wasn't be pleased by what he saw today
and blamed it on altitude training and Mexico's month-long

"Noi invece siamo più indietro nella condizione. E sinceramente un campanello d’allarme c’è. Pensavo stessimo un po’ meglio, ma i ragazzi mi hanno detto che avevano le gambe molto pesanti. Probabilmente con un avversario che avesse fatto cose simili alle nostre, in preparazione, sarebbe stato diverso. Invece questo Messico era brillantissimo. Ma conta essere a posto fra un paio di settimane e ci riusciremo. Possono bastare anche pochi giorni perché le gambe comincino a girare bene".
"We on the other hand were further behind in conditioning. And frankly, there is cause for alarm. I thought we would be a little better, but the lads told me that they had very heavy legs. Probably with an opponent that had done things similar to us, in preparation (two weeks at altitude), it would have been different.

Instead this Mexican side was brilliant. But what counts is to have things sorted between now and two weeks and we shall do so. It may only take a few days because the legs will begin to operate well."
"A Wembley, una settimana fa, se il Messico dopo un’ora avesse segnato 3 gol con l’Inghilterra, sarebbe stato normale. Per questo oggi non sono sorpreso dalla loro prestazione. Stanno bene e hanno deciso di fare un lavoro diverso. Avversario peggiore non ci potevamo scegliere. Tutti vi siete resi conto della differenza evidente di preparazione".
"At Wembley, a week ago, if Mexico after an hour would have scored three goals against England, it would have been normal. Due to this, I'm not surprised by their presentation today. They are good and have decided to do a different type of work. A weaker opponent we could not have chosen. All of you see the evident difference in preparation."
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, June 3, 2010.

Slow starts are nothing new for the Azzurri. The key factor will be can Mr. Lippi make the necessary adjustments before their first World Cup match against Paraguay? Their next friendly will be against Switzerland on Saturday evening in Geneva. The Azzurri are schedule to depart for South Africa on 8 June.

Heysel Tribute

Italian Football Federation President Abete and Italy's national soccer team player Cannavaro pay tribute in Brussels to the 39 Juventus fans who died during the 1985 European Cup final
Fabio Cannavaro and Italian FA President Abete.

Before the game, the Azzurri paid tribute to the 25th anniversary of the tragedy at Heysel Stadium which was the former setting of the King Baudouin Stadium. Thirty-nine fans, thirty-eight from Juventus, were killed during a European Cup final with Liverpool.

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