De Rossi saves Italian blushes

by Michael Somerville

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Italy 1
Paraguay 1

Italy started well in this tie against Paraquay, but but couldn’t quite break Paraguay down. The South Americans impressively finished ahead of Argentina in qualification for the World Cup, started with two strikers- Valdez and Barrios. The Paraquans appeared to field an attacking formation, but remained defensively minded and rigorous in the first half. Italy controlled the first half; but just couldn’t apply the killer finish. No striker in the mould of Totti or Del Piero made it difficult for Italy to grab a goal and the defensive pairing of Da Silva and Cacares were commendably repelling crosses that came their way.

Then suddenly, just before the break and against the run of play, Paraguay struck. Antolin Alacatraz produced just what the doctor ordered; rising above Cannavaro and De Rossi to send the ball into the bottom right hand corner from a wonderfully flighted free kick. Veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon earning his 103rd cap was absolutely rooted to the spot as he watched his World champions side sink. Italy had struggled for goals before this years World Cup and they desperately needed to find one tonight.

Italy finished the first half thoroughly miserable, cold, wet and hugely aggrieved. A wet pitch was suiting Paraquay, and being one nil up, they looked like actually going on to win the game.

Camoranesi came on for Claudio Marchisio and immediately produced some very good work in the middle of the park. Italy have such good creative midfielders on the bench with Pirlo and Camoranesi. De Rossi headed in after another goalkeeping howler at the World Cup. Villar hardly showed leadership (he is the Paraquay captain) after he flapped at Simone Pepe’s corner as four goalkeeping howlers in as many days has played a big part in goals scored in South Africa. After Italy got their goal, the weather broke. Every Italy attack looked threatening and every 50/50 ball went for ‘Azzurri.’ They had the momentum but just couldn’t get the winner; Ricardo Montolivio coming close with a rasping drive from 25 yards. It was probably to do with the fact that Marcello Lippi decided to change the formation to 4-4-2
£18 million man Roque Santa Cruz became a much needed figurehead for Paraquay with 22 minutes left to play but again struggled to impose himself of the immense pairing of Cannavaro and Chiellini. Di Natale who managed 29 goals for Udinese last season came on with just under 20 minutes to play but made no impact.

A good point for Paraquay leaves the group wide open, but it’s most likely that these two impressive teams should qualify with ease to the second round.

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.

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