Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Tigani On March - 1 - 2012

Italy 0-1 USA: Unlucky Azzurri Lose Another Friendly

Following Italy’s shock 1-0 loss in Genoa to the USA on Wednesday night, Gigi Buffon told reporters, “there’s no need to get worried” and that “we absolutely did not deserve defeat tonight”. The Juventus ‘keeper was absolutely correct.

The Azzurri dominated proceedings at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris from start to finish and as Giorgio Chiellini opined, “we deserved at least a draw from this performance.”

Still, with any loss, no matter the significance, questions will always be raised.  But, Italy’s loss to the Americans does not warrant many. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side were extremely lucky. Cesare Prandelli’s side were unlucky.

The USA had two shots on goal during the whole game. One came from a free-kick and the other one proved to be the winner. Italy, on the other hand, had 20 attempts in total with eight on target.

The linesmen did not do Italy any favours either. Alessandro Matri and Sebastian Giovinco may need to time their runs better, but, on at least two occasions they wrongly were called offside.

Just as he is for Juventus, Andrea Pirlo was Italy’s metronome in the centre of the park. As ever he dictated play from deep while he also created the better of the chances going forward.

Perhaps the biggest question mark raised in this game was that concerning who should play in the role of trequartista. Italy has a great history of famous trequartistas, from Giuseppe Giannini to Francesco Totti. However, the current crop lacks such a player.

Last night Thiago Motta was tried in this role. Usually playing deeper in midfield, he did little to suggest that he is the answer to who should play playing in behind the front two. Riccardo Montolivo remains the most ideal player, however, his inconsistency raises doubts.

For Prandelli, the answer may lie in dropping the diamond midfield altogether in favour of a 4-3-3 set-up. This is the shape he changed his side to as they chased the game and it almost paid off as Italy looked much more threatening, especially down the flanks as Fabio Borini and Sebastian Giovinco linked up to good effect with Ignazio Abate and Angelo Ogbonna respectively.

Speaking of Ogbonna, the man who is helping lead Torino’s bid for Serie A promotion, he was one of Italy’s best on the night. Calm and composed in the centre of defence in the first half, he remained as such when moved to left-back following the introduction of Chiellini at half-time.

A result may have eluded Italy last night, yet, one has to remember that Prandelli played without his three first choice attacking options, Antonio Cassano, Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli. The former two still unavailable due to injury and health concerns while the latter was excluded on disciplinary grounds.

It was Italy’s second consecutive friendly loss following last May’s defeat in Rome to Uruguay, but, la Nazionale have always struggled to get results in friendlies. As Buffon explained, “we probably play our best games when there’s a lot at stake”, and again, he is right.

Since claiming the world crown back in 2006, Italy’s record in friendlies makes for dismal reading; eight wins, nine draws and seven losses. Meanwhile their record in competitive matches in the same duration, including their horrific showing at the 2009 Confederations Cup, reads much more pleasingly; in 42 competitive matches they have lost just five times, winning on 26 occasions and drawing 11 times. Their winning ratio in competitive matches is double that of in friendly encounters.

Italy have now lost on four occasions under Cesare Prandelli. But, they have all come, not surprisingly, in friendly matches. Losing friendly matches is almost an Italian tradition so there should be no raising of the alarm bells.

The loss may be un-welcomed, but, Prandelli has built a strong Italy side, one that just a few months back defeated world champions Spain. Italy remain on track to improve on their 2008 European Cup showing and this latest set-back has definitely not damaged this belief amongst the players. As Chiellini said after the defeat, “the match wasn’t so awful and we are annoyed to have lost, as incidents went against us, but we remain convinced we’ll have a great Euros.”

  • Frejette

    Funny when ever a side losses they are pronounced “unlucky” I didn’t know this futbol was a game of luck.

  • Frank

    Sportsmanship is not an Italian quality.

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