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Friday, September 3, 2010

Euro 2012 Qualifier: Estonia 1 x Italia 2: Azzurri Win for the First Time in a Year

Tonight at the Le Coq Stadium in Tallinn, the Prandelli era kicks-off at 2030 CET. This will be the first competitive game after the World Cup adventure. (Italy lost o x 1 against Cote d'Ivoire in a London friendly). The Azzurri will try to win for the first time in eight games (the last win was against Sweden in Nov. 2009) and put to rest the ghosts from the miserable experience in South Africa.

Euro 2012 Qualification: Group C
Estonia, Faroe Islands, Italy, Northern Ireland, Serbia and Slovenia.

Other matches today:

Faroe Islands 0 x Serbia 3
Slovenia 0 x Northern Ireland 1
UEFA Euro 2012 Table and Results

Offensive Lineup

Aug. 10, 2010 - 06306504 date 11 08 2010 Copyright imago BPI Antonio Cassano of Italy Pulls The Ball Back Into The Ivory Coast Penalty Area After getting behind The Defence PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men international match National team London Action shot Vdig xkg 2010 horizontal premiumd Football.
Antonio Cassano: The jewel from Bari Vecchia is
one of the most creative Italian players of his generation.

Cesare Prandelli promised big changes and an offensive lineup. He has not disappointed Azzurri fans with the inclusion of former persona non grata, Antonio Cassano, who appears to be his fantasista. Cassano will partner up front with his Sampdoria teammate, Giampaolo Pazzini.

Probable Formations

Italia: 4-3-3


Cassani, Bonucci, Chiellini, Molinaro

Montolivo, Pirlo (capt.), De Rossi

Pepe, Pazzini, Cassano

Manager: Mr. Prandelli

Estonia: 4-4-2


Jagger, Barengrub, Piroja (capt.), Klavan

Puri, Dmitruev, Vassiljev, Krugeov

Vunk, Denjov

Manager: Mr. Ruutli

Referee: Mr. Carballo of Spain.

Weather Conditions: Rain and 9 to 12 degrees Celsius.

Prandelli Before the Game: Three playmakers instead of one

dell’Estonia - "che ha 4-5 giocatori interessanti che abbiamo seguito, ma non chiedetemi i nomi, li conosco per numeri" ha spiegato ai cronisti locali. E così a centrocampo schiera insieme la tecnica di Pirlo e Montolivo, affiancati da De Rossi. Tre giocatori di qualità, tutti capaci di fare il playmaker, perchè ha spiegato Prandelli, "non dobbiamo dare punti di riferimento, e se gli avversari mettono un uomo su Pirlo, gli altri possono comunque fare gioco".

On Estonia:
"Estonia has four or five interesting players that we have followed but don't ask me their names. I know them by their shirt numbers," Prandelli told local Estonian journalists. He will field together in midfield the technical quality of Pirlo and Montolivo at the flanks of De Rossi. Three quality players all of whom can be the playmaker, because as Prandellli explained:

"We don't want to give a point of reference and if the opponents put a man on Pirlo, the others can also dictate the play."
Rosters and Italian text courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport, 3 September 2010.

First Half

The Azzurri controlled the tempo and had the majority of ball possession on a cold, rainy night in Tallinn. They looked crisp, maintained their positions and pushed forward. The defensive back four held a high line. Estonia seemed content to absorb the pressure with the exception of two counter-attacks. Both posed problems and exposed a weakness in the Italian defense.

Pazzini had a good chance in the 16th minute. But in the 29th minute, on their second goal-scoring opportunity, the hosts pounced on an Azzurri defensive mistake from a set piece.
Vassiljev took a free kick from about 30 meters out and Sirugu, the Azzurri keeper could not hold on. Denjov, who was unmarked, had an easy tap-in as the Italian defenders only watched. Antonio Cassano had a fine individual effort that nearly found the lower left corner of the goal with the Estonian keeper beat.

The half ended, 1 x 0. The Azzurri worked hard but seemed to lack consistency and flow.

Fulvio Collovati,
a former defender from the 1982 World Cup winning team, said on RAI Sport from the stadium: "They are making fundamental defensive errors... Part of it is inexperience and not playing much together... We are a different team after we concede a goal... We don't need to look good tonight. We need a result."

Second Half

A powerful left-footed shot by Puri at the start of the half had Sirugu beaten but the ball sailed slightly over the crossbar. Had that gone in, it might have closed the game. Estonia played with new-found confidence and the Azzurri looked out of sorts. The hosts had too much pace and the Italians looked weary. Fabio Quagliarella replaced Simone Pepe. But in the 59th minute, Italy's luck changed. From a perfect corner by Andrea Pirlo, an unmarked Antonio Cassano headed the ball home. Deja vu three minutes later when Pirlo took a corner. This time, Cassano deftly flicked the ball with a back heel to a waiting and appreciative Leonardo Bonucci who slotted the ball for the second goal. What a difference the first Azzurri goal made.

Estonia continued to push forward for the equalizer and again exposed Azzurri defensive woes. Angelo Palumbo came on for Montolivo. Estonia continued to pressure the Italians to the final whistle and almost scored on a howler by Sirigu who was very unsure in goal tonight. The game ended, 1 x 2 and Mister Prandelli obtains his first win on the Azzurri bench. The result mattered but more work needs to be done ahead of more difficult opponents such as Northern Ireland and Serbia.

My Man of the Match: Antonio Cassano.

Scoring Summary

Estonia 1 x Italia 2

Denjov 29' Cassano 59', Bonucci 62.

Match Statistics

Estonia Italy
Shots (on Goal) 7(3) 10(6)
Fouls 15 7
Corner Kicks 3 9
Offsides 1 5
Time of Possession 35% 65%
Yellow Cards 2 0
Red Cards 0 0
Saves 5 3

Statistics courtesy of ESPN SoccerNet.

Next Match: 7 September 2010 in Florence against the Faroe Islands.

Prandelli after the Game on RAI Sport
"We lost most of the dead ball situations on defense... I had to make changes and told the lads at the half to push forward and gain confidence... We deserved this victory. Cassano was great."
Post-Match Comments by Prandelli

"Antonio ha lottato per tornare in Nazionale. E questa settimana ha dimostrato l’attaccamento alla maglia azzurra. Sono convinto che Antonio possa fare molto di più. Ha bisogno di sentire l’affetto, allora si apre del tutto".
"Antonio fought to return in the national side. And this week he demonstrated his attachment to the Azzurri shirt. I am convinced that Antonio can do even more... He needs to feel affection and then he opens up to everything."
Italian source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 4 September 2010.

Note: Antonio Cassano did not speak to the press after the match.

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