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End of the road for Lippi's Italy

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Paul Fletcher | 22:26 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

It might have been a slow burner but Thursday's match at Ellis Park eventually exploded into life and provided the most drama, desperation and edge-of-the-seat excitement that we have seen so far at the World Cup.

However, Italy's shock 3-2 to defeat to Slovakia won't be remembered fondly by Marcello Lippi and his players - most of whom could not get down the tunnel and into the very private sanctity of their dressing room quickly enough after the final whistle.

Only retiring skipper Fabio Cannavaro hung around, heading towards referee Howard Webb to vent some of his fury and frustration in the direction of the English official.

Eventually, as Slovakia's players and their entire backroom staff congregated in a giant huddle in the centre of the Ellis Park pitch to celebrate their extraordinary victory, Cannavaro was teased off the field by a member of the Italian delegation.

It was a sad end to a great career for the 36-year-old central defender, who has won 137 caps for his country, but the referee was not to blame for his team's exit.

The sad truth for the Azzurri is that in 2010 they were simply not good enough. Italy drew with Paraguay and New Zealand and lost to Slovakia. They did not deserve to qualify.

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Highlights: Holders Italy bow out of the World Cup (UK only)

Only in the final 15 minutes against Slovakia did we finally see some attacking cohesion and desire from an Italy side that had previously misfired.

Italy trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but twice moved back to within one goal of the draw that would have seen them sneak into the round of 16. They created enough chances in the final 15 minutes to pull off a stunning comeback - and would surely have done so if substitute Fabio Quagliarella's late strike had not been ruled out for offside.

It was all too much for the 27-year Napoli striker, who was a lively presence after his half-time introduction but who left the field in tears.

It proved to be the final game of coach Marcello Lippi's second spell in charge of Italy and afterwards the 62-year-old spoke with great dignity and honesty about the campaign.

"When you see a team that plays with fear in their legs and in their hearts you understand that you have failed," said Lippi.

Four years ago, Lippi used the negative publicity that surrounded the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal to galvanise his squad, who had arrived in Germany unfancied but left clutching their fourth World Cup title.

But they, like fellow finalists France, have been eliminated at the group stage in South Africa - and Lippi stressed time and again that he accepted total responsibility.

Every question, whether about selection, tactics, motivation, preparation or psychology, saw Lippi deflect the blame away from his players.

He was clearly at a loss to explain why his team performed so miserably for so long against Slovakia in what was a game his team knew they needed to win to be absolutely sure of qualification.

You can understand why he was so perplexed because Italy's record in crunch group games is exceptional. They had not failed to qualify from the group stage at the World Cup since 1974 and so history would suggest that Italy produced when it mattered.

The reasons why they did not do so in South Africa are varied.

It has been suggested that they have an ageing squad.

It is not as old as either Brazil or England but at times against Slovakia the years appeared to have caught up with Cannavaro, who could easily have been dismissed for two poor tackles in quick succession in the opening half.

Italy conceded twice in the 2006 tournament, one of them an own goal, but errors played a part in all three goals they conceded on Thursday.

Daniele De Rossi's awful pass led to the first, a moment's hesitation from Giorgio Chiellini contributed to the second and the entire defence was caught out by Kamil Kopunek's run as he collected a throw-in for the third.

Italy constructed their previous World Cup campaign on clean sheets but they failed to keep one here and conceded five goals in three games.

They could argue that they were unfortunate in that the only two shots on target against them in their first two games resulted in goals.

Nonetheless, Italy had not conceded more than two goals in a World Cup fixture since their 4-1 defeat to Brazil in the 1970 final, but they were found wanting by a team who were outclassed by Paraguay in their previous fixture.

The injury sustained by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon against Paraguay did not help. He is a reassuring presence and his influence on the team was clear even on Thursday as he stood in front of the Italy dugout imploring his colleagues to push forward.

He was stood next to Gennaro Gattuso, who made his first appearance of the tournament against Slovakia but was withdrawn at the break. The 32-year-old warmed up with all the vigour I expect of him but, after an injury affected season for AC Milan, he lacked the snarl and bite of old and has also quit the international scene.

This Italy team has also been short of goals - with Lippi's attacking selections during the three games strongly suggesting that no one striker had done enough to cement a place.

They had scored five in their previous eight games before Thursday, with just one goal coming in open play from a striker, Quagliarella's effort in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in a warm-up fixture.

But what Italy have really missed during this campaign is midfield creativity. Andrea Pirlo was a deep-sitting playmaker in 2006 and instrumental in his team's victory but a calf injury meant that his only role in South Africa was as a second-half substitute against Slovakia.

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Archive: Italy beat France to win in 2006 as Zidane sees red (UK only)

During the first half the television images cut to Pirlo watching from the dugout, the obvious message being that he was the man Italy so desperately needed.

His absence was clearly keenly felt - a point that Lippi himself made - and, with a view to the long-term, Italy needs a new star to emerge in the middle of the park.

In one sense, Italy's World Cup failure is not all that surprising. They were awful in last year's Confederations Cup but Lippi, like Enzo Bearzot in 1986, perhaps continued to rely too heavily on players who were so successful for him four years earlier. They were 10 from the 2006 squad in South Africa.

But when the chips are down Italy normally show enough composure, skill and professionalism to produce a result.

The fact that Slovakia's players ended Thursday's match sliding across the turf in joyous celebration in front of their own supporters showed that this Italy team is now in need of reinvention.

For as Gattuso said afterwards, Italy have hit rock bottom.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Who would have thought that Italy would finish below an unbeaten New Zealand side?

  • Comment number 2.

    Italy Lippi-synched out of the cup,never playing live until the final 15 minutes. France imploded.Germany next?

  • Comment number 3.

    BTW I thought it was fantastic to see the British ref take a firm stance on the fakes.Not popular with some of the Drama Queens masquerading as Footie Stars,but so what.Hopefully we can rid the game of this cancer once and for all.

  • Comment number 4.

    A really excellent blog, one which tells nothing but the truth. Personally one of the worst footballing days I've ever had as an Italian, but probably deserved.

    Half of me wants to blame 2 dodgy decisions and an illegal goal, but the other (correct) half simply admits that Italy were massively inferior to the rest and deserved to be shown the door. There is nothing else to say about it.

    I will be really interested to see how Italy reinvent themselves and what, if any psychological damage has been done for future tournaments.

    No matter what we say though, Lippi knows his players and football more than all of us put together and I think he cannot be entirely blamed.

    It's done, it's a dark chapter in our history and something which is to be avenged.

    Forza Azzurri

  • Comment number 5.

    Italy were awful. But then again so was the referee, he made some decisions that made me wonder if he was on orders to make sure Italy went through.

  • Comment number 6.

    There's some serious karma working itself out in this world cup.

    Michael Ballack out through tackle.

    France out after stealing Ireland's place.

    Italy out after their reliance on diving failed them.

    At this rate England will win a penalty shoot out.

  • Comment number 7.

    The worst Azzurri I have encountered in my life time, no ideas, no pride and a lack of technical ability! Am I surprised? Hell no, this is Italy, this is what we do!

    Of course I am very disappointed but I can't say I am surprised that we finished bottom of the group. This squad is a joke when you consider Lippi left out the likes of Cassano, Miccoli, Borriello, Rossi and Aquilani!

    It is like 1986 all over again but at least those boys qualified to the knockout stages! Lippi came into this tournament not knowing his best team or what formation to play! He also decided last minute to lower the average age of the squad by introducing youngsters who had barely 3 caps to their name and had no involvement in the qualifying campaign and thus had no competitive experience! Add to the mix the 2006 veterans who are way past their best, it was always going to be a recipe for disaster!

    However, the Italian FA have taken a positive step in taking the Azzurri forward and are demanding a youthful side by appointing Cesare Prandelli, a Manager who has a proven record of bring the best out of the youngsters. This is an exciting time as it finally looks like the starlets who have blossomed under Italy's hugely successful U21 system will finally get their chance to shine at senior level... Fingers crossed

    Players I would like to see in a fresh faced Azzurri would be the likes of Cassano, Miccoli, Borriello, Rossi, Giovinco, Ballotelli, Aquilani, Nocerino, Cigarini and Motta combined with the freshly capped players of this current squad.

    Now this is the sort of squad that should have been assembled 2 years ago at the Euro Championships which would have been ready to compete at this World Cup, but no point dwelling on what if's, time to regroup and bring the pride back to a wounded nation.

    Forza Italia, noi con voi per sempre

  • Comment number 8.

    I just find it all really sad. In fact, the last 20 mins, apart from the horrible and to-be decisive 3rd Slovak goal, I'd say the Italians were more entertaining than the whole of 2006! I will always remember Quagliarella's (lol!) amazing strike. One of the great mysteries this time round to why they came to life so late, considering their group.

    They had an unlucky match but honestly, it was really New Zealand who brought them down. Its the reverse finale of what happened to England!! All eyes on Spain now!

  • Comment number 9.

    I blame Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 10.

    The sports writers keeping writing in surprised tones that Italy didn't show any offensive flair. Has nobody watched Italy the last 20 years? They play for a 1-0 game and it has finally come back to haunt them. Normally they get the phantom calls as they did against New Zealand. Italy embodies everything that is wrong with the game. If FIFA ever decides to crack down on diving Italy will have nothing left.

  • Comment number 11.

    this is what happens when you leave it down to your last 20 minutes of your 270 minute stint at the world cup. lady luck turns a cold shoulder and you leave the field in tears.

  • Comment number 12.

    Italy were a disgrace even more so as i was waiting on them to top there group for my world cup accumulator to be a winner netting me 5k !!! but instead of being in the money i had to watch them play garbage football for 86 mins and only then did they decide to have a go for the remaining 4 mins !!!! they were lacklustre against paraguay and new zealand as well.... if they had played with as much passion for the 270 mins play ( 3 games ) as they did in those last 4 mins against slovakia then they wud have walked the group... as far as im concerned they are a national disgrace ... they shud be ashamed of themselves... as for me i will never back italy or any italian side ever again.... useless... completely useless.

  • Comment number 13.

    to put it simply... paraguay were awful they had nothing going forward i mean new zealand comfortably held them to a 0-0 draw... new zealand have not even got a professional league which shows how bad they are and as for slovakia they went into todays game bottom of the pile.. to sum it up u got held by a bad bad paraguay side 1-1 u got held by new zealand whose team was made up of plummers.. electricians and bankers 1-1 and u got completely mullered by slovakia ( population 5 million ) ( italy population 60 million )....... HOW BAD ARE italy !!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    There were some close calls that coulda turned the match but Italy cannot blame the ref , i thought the officials did well overall . I think Italy's biggest problem was there striker's , they were awful , none of them are good strikers at the best of time's. It's been fun as a neutral seeing some of the 'smaller' teams getting through , it is great seeing there celebrations as it means everything to them.

  • Comment number 15.

    never been happier to see italys equalizer ruled off side :) they were so poor they may as well have not turned up.

  • Comment number 16.

    i hope italy never win another trophy..... ever.

  • Comment number 17.

    Love Michael's (6) blog!
    What I found dreadful was the Italian team's behaviour which the referee should have dealt with but didn't. What sort of example is it to the up-and-coming youngsters when
    1) An Italian player just goes up and kicks the Slovakian goal keeper. No red card, no booking, no talking to.
    2) An Italian player just barges into a Slovacian player whilst he was heading the ball (very dangerous) with no attempt to play the ball. No red card, no booking, no talking to, just a free kick.
    3) Having lost the ball, an Italian player, in temper sythes through the back of a Slovacian player with no attempt to play the ball. No red card, no booking, no talking to, just a free kick.
    4) 2 Italian players in a mele with the Slovakian goal keeper. No red cards, just a booking.
    All 4 should have been red cards. And at the end of the match, the Italian coach ignores the tradition of shaking his Slovakian counterpart by the hand and exchanging a few pleasantries but instead storms down the tunnel. I think the FIFA should look into the above and mete out retrospective punishments. I also think that both the Italian and the French coaches should be reprimanded by their respective countries. Their behaviour reflects very, very badly on their respective countries.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    @13: That is not valid logic regarding New Zealand not having a professional league since obviously they play in Australia's league. Top players from Wales, Ireland, etc. go to play in England often. I'm sure one could hunt down a league in New Zealand if they really wanted to find that out.

  • Comment number 20.

    A team that is full of drama queens, place most of their hopes on subterfuge and dissemblance and have little to show by way of skills of the game deserved to be ousted. Last Wc was lifted by Italy on a combination of skill and chicanery with a big part played by Cannavaro and Materazzi in skills and skulduggery, respectively. But this time they have brought to the table only the latter. They are all prima donnas and that should never be enough for a WC ticket.

    The way an Italian player attacked the Slovakia keeper after their first goal was punishable much more severely. Italy have met their just deserts and they can have little to complain about. They just about deserved to be cut to size by a minnows like Slovakia. In contrast Slovakia were very pragmatic and professionally efficient; a performance that should be a good pointer to the quality of their coach. Anyone else in his place could have been too excited to keep perspective and a team on the cusp of history, on an even keel.

    Howard Webb, may be for a change, was excellent and without controversy. His supervision was objective,efficient and fair. The stint should not go unnoticed for future assignations in the Cup.

    A ggod write, Paul.

  • Comment number 21.

    Re #20, were it not for the disgusting foul comments one of those defenders made to Zidane at the last World Cup, Italy probably would never have become champions.
    So now, perhaps, we see some divine justice, though only a very little.

  • Comment number 22.

    A non-context question Paul; Latin American teams are swamping the barricades, this cup. Do you think Brazil will manouevre their last game in order to pit Portugal against a probable Spain? Even missing Kaka, they only have an alibi. Replacements are as good. I do not believe Brazil should, but they well could.

  • Comment number 23.

    This has to be a turning point for Italian football. They can't continue playing horribly forever. Many will say, well, they won the WC in 82 and 06 playing like this, so why change? Because Italian fans in particular and the world of football in general deserve to see much, much more from Italy. The talent is always there, in spite of the disgraceful tactics. A country that's produced R. Baggio, Mancini, Zola, Del Piero, Totti, and Pirlo should win in a spectacular fashion every time they play.

  • Comment number 24.

    If any bad karma was at work it surely came from Italy's 2006 match against Australia when ? (can't remember his name) took a dive-writhe in the Oz box and earned a penalty.

  • Comment number 25.

    It does seem that karma is finally playing a part in this tournament, and none too soon.

    When Fifa decide to address the issue of diving we may see a sport that is worthy of having role models for our youth to look up to.

    Congrats to NZ for finishing above italy in their group!

  • Comment number 26.

    That the ITALIANS crashed out so spectacularly is somewhat hard to believe, but it could be argued that the warning signs had been there for quite sometime (Euro 2008 group stage exit springs to mind. It waas a touch ironic to see Canavaro's disbelief and utter agony - he seemed so distant for a man who lifted the coveted tropy just four years earlier. His mates were just as cresfallen. How football is a cruel game!

  • Comment number 27.

    This may be worrying a lot of people. The English team out there did very well. Howard Webb and his assistants have had two matches, both high profile, and been efficient, generally correct (it's impossible to be correct ALL the time), referreed with common sense (frequently lacking in matches in the second and third rounds of the group phase) and tried to get the game played properly. His dealing with the "incident" after the first Italian goal was about right and his adding two further minutes of additional time after the original four were elapsed were unlike other refs who have ignored timewasting and substitutions after the 90 mins are up. Should England get knocked out by Germany, on these performances, he could be a good choice for the final.
    On the subject of additional time why is it not possible in this day and age to have a count down clock (or count up clock) visible to all in the ground so that all there (including Sir Alex) can know how much time there is left. Whenever the referee wants to stop the clock for timewasting, bookings, substitutions etc. he can give a signal (crossed arms above the head works well in Hockey) to the fourth (or fifth even) official who will stop the clock, and it is restarted on another signal from the ref. Works in other sports, or is that the reason it's not in football.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ 27. At 07:48am on 25 Jun 2010, John of Burgundy:

    I have to agree with that. I'd love to see the stats of the time the ball is actually in play in some matches. It's endlessly frustrating to see tight games blighted by constant stoppages in the final minutes (when the excitement should be at fever pitch) and then the referees adding on a miserable 3 minutes and not allowing for further stoppages during stoppage time.

    Players feigning injury and wasting time in other ways drives fans mad but players will continue to do it....because it works! Monitor the time properly, as John of B suggests and we might actually see this removed from the game.

  • Comment number 29.

    Italy won the 1996 title, but they did not play for the best football then. Defensive tactics, luck (penalty/theatrics??? against Socceroos), and provoking Zidane got them their title. Dont forget only about 10% of World Cup fans are from participating countries. The rest watch because they love the game and appreciate good football. Italy were lucky to have draw the 2010 game against New Zealand thanks to a soft penalty. If penalties are to be awarded for every mild jersey tug, we will penalties every 5 minutes of the game. And it was the only penalty awarded for that kind of offence in this WC. Italy should be happy they got 2 points.

  • Comment number 30.

    Possibly a bit of perspective is needed here. Italy were exceptionally poor no doubt but I think that much of the gloating here, if not misplaced is certainly a little naive. Italy are not the only side that has players who dive and indulge in gamesmanship - I have not yet seen a team in the tournament that doesn't have these sorry aspects to the game. In my opinion, the lesson that Italy needs to learn here is a much tougher one than 'cut out the diving':

    Despite Inter's CL victory this season, Italian football is in genuine danger. The authorities have turned a blind eye to hand in glove relationship between clubs and their far-right 'supporters groups', i.e. Ultras, meaning that large sections of many grounds are no-go areas for fans who just want to enjoy a game. There has been a case this season where a player has given a far right salute on the pitch, during a game, and the opposing club were given a fine for their fans provocation of him. No action was taken against the player.

    Italy had the perfect opportunity to raise their club game from the doldrums following their response to the scandals of 05/06 (and it was an admirably robust response - a surprise to many of us) and the massively surprising WC win. They didn't take it.

    English football took stock after Hillsborough (I realise that these events don't bear comparison in any other way), recognised the problems with the game and made the football grounds safe, family friendly places to be. The EPL soon followed and within time surpassed Seria A as the most high profile league in the world.

    Sadly, our national side have not been able to capitalise on this flood of money and opportunity into our game but I can't help but feel that if Italy had come into this tournament after 4 years of playing week-in week-out to packed stadiums, developing their now slightly dated approach to international football to bring more entertainment to the masses and playing more for joy than out of fear then we might have seen more from them at this WC.

    I realise I could be wrong. A great domestic league is no guarantor of international success. I realise that England were fortunate to get through and could be leaving on Sunday, I just think that Italy missed such a golden opportunity 4 years ago. Credit to them for giving themselves the opportunity - its more than we've managed - but shame on them for not taking it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Goodbye and good riddance! Italy are undoubtedly one of the most talented footballing nations and at their best are an absolute pleasure to watch but I am fed up watching them cheat time and time again. Their ego's and theatrics far outweighed their footballing performance this time round and I for one am delighted to see them finish bottom of the group and below NZ.

    Also - Lippi is a fantastic coach and for Italians to be on here questioning him is laughable! If only Cannavaro shared his dignity!!

  • Comment number 32.

    After seeing how the European teams fared in the Confed Cup last year, I was sure that they would struggle again this year. With so many qualifiers, it is embarassing how few Euro teams have made it through to the last 16 so far.
    But why?
    The South and Central American teams are doing well. Could it be a case that the Euro teams are simply too soft? That SA's pitches, weather, and entertainment isn't as satisfying as what they have back home? And while their American counterparts are used to a tougher life (where conditions are closer to SA; where they have to leave their country, and often continent, to play competitive football; where they come from, generally, poorer backgrounds, and have that fight instilled in them to provide for their families) Euro teams like Italy are simply too pampered to put up much of a fight in a place like SA.
    Can't see any Euro teams making the semis.

  • Comment number 33.

    "At this rate England will win a penalty shoot out."

    Steady on mate, this would clearly be too big a task even for Karma ;)

  • Comment number 34.

    What we saw yesterday may not just be the end of Italy for this WC, but the beginning of the demise of Italian football. I just don't see any promise coming out Italy. The rest of the world is fast catching up and Italy is going backwards, relying on players from yesterday. Even the Inter team that won the CL had not a single Italian in it!
    Time for Italy to start thinking the unthinkable and allow citizens of non-Italian stock to represent it, and I don't mean former Argentines, I mean Italian born talent from immigrant communities. Otherwise they will get left behind..

  • Comment number 35.

    I love the way you English take every opportunity to have a pop at our Football... Jealousy is an ugly thing. Now if you were German, Brazilian, Argentinean, maybe I would take note, so otherwise please pipe down.

    We don't need you to highlight the fact that we have had a terrible World Cup, our high standards and World Cup pedigree demands only the best; but one thing is for sure, we will certainly bounce back because we always do, and deep down you all know that also.

    So come on take your little moment and have a go if it makes you feel better, but if you want my advice, I would seriously save all these negative and spiteful comments for your own National Team... Probably until just after 5pm on Sunday.

    Forza Italia

  • Comment number 36.

    A lot of bitterness towards Italy here from the English fans.
    Granted Italy have had an awful world cup and deserve to go home but to single them out for critism for diving etc is just nonsence.
    As the saying goes those in glass houses should not throw stones.
    Look at the penalty Owen won against the argies in 98 pure Diving, how many Pens has Gerrard won in the premier league through diving. I am not saying Italy are innocent but they are not the only team to do it.

    Also I love how everyone blames Materazzi for Zidane headbutting him. Surely you can see all the Matrix did is wind him up, something centre backs have been doing for as ong as the game has been played. If you think John Terry doesnt do it then you are just naive.

  • Comment number 37.

    First France and now Italy. England scraped through, Germany have been far from convincing and we will see what happens to Spain tonight.

    Re.32 BennyHilario - I completely agree with your comment about the possibility of no Euro teams making the semis. There will definitely be 1 non-Euro semi-finalist from the top of the draw (Uruguay, S.Korea, USA or Ghana) and if you add the fact that Argentina and Brazil look in such good form and the Chile or Paraguay could easily negotiate the other side of the draw then it looks a real possibility.

    European football has certainly fallen from its domination at the last World Cup. I think the answer has to lie a little with the number of games played by European players. Look at the number of telling injuries or burnouts.

    France - internal strife obviously a factor, but Ribery for example has been injured most of the season.
    Italy - Pirlo injury I think has been a big factor also look at the end of Paraguay and NZ games where Italy should have been all over a team that had been defedning for 90 minutes but just didn't look sharp at all.
    England - not been great so far and Rooney and Barry are clearly not match sharp after their injuries, with Ferdinand and King's problems added on top etc
    Germany - injury to Ballack, Schweinsteiger now likely injured as well, Podolski and Klose struggling for domestic form because of niggles

    The number of club games Euro teams play now is ridiculous (look at Fulham for example this season) and surely needs to be addressed by UEFA. But of course it is all about the money at the end of the day...

  • Comment number 38.

    Some of these comments have lost touch with reality! Yes the Italian players dived a bit in the tournament, and cheated but so does EVERYONE! Yes even including our own sainted players over here in England. And did anyone see the second Brazil goal against Ivory Coast? Or the diving by Keita in that game? Diving infects the Premier league as much as any other top flight.

    Secondly Italy, although poor and deserving to go out, were defending world champs - when was the last time we even got to a final?

    And someone mentioned pampered Italian prima-donna, Terry, Defoe, Lennon, Wright-Phillips, Rooney? Need I go on?

    I am by no means an Italian fan, I enjoy their football when they decide to play it (like in the final 15 mins vs Slovakia) but reading through these comments it's as if we in England are venting our own lack of success on other teams. Let's win something first then get snooty about the 'foreigners'.

  • Comment number 39.

    The Italians make Ronaldo look honest, good for the game their cheating anti-football is going home.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Well said Mike! Diving is a blight on the game and Fifa/Uefa need to take steps to combat it. I would for example impose a rule that any player who roles around on the floor injured or not has to wait on the sidelines for 3 minutes. Harsh on the truly injured i know but would stop the likes of say Drogba rolling around on the pitch all game as he would spend a third of it on the sidelines. See how his mates would react to playing with 10 men for most of the game.

  • Comment number 42.

    "An Italian player just goes up and kicks the Slovakian goal keeper. No red card, no booking, no talking to."

    Did you close your eyes when they showed the replay of that "kick", or are you just being a WUM?

  • Comment number 43.

    A lot of teams (including England) were only one goal or offside flag from going out or going through. If Italy had qualified, we'd have all forgotten these matches.

    Howard Webb must have had somewhere important to be at the end because he certainly didn't add time for all the time wasting at the end.

    Italy have been in decline for about 10 years, Cannavaro wouldn't have been there if there was anyone good enough to replace him.
    We just aren't good enough to lose players like Pirlo and Buffon.

    Really though it's the managers fault:
    Di Natale, Quagliarella, Pepe are exiting players who were not played or were completely stifled as Pepe was.

    If Lippi had played the way Italy wanted him to, we would have got to the quarter finals.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sleepingspurs if that is what you believe is a red card offence then you might as well join Platini in making it a non contact sport.
    That incident was entirely concocted by the slovak goalie to waste time and in my view was dealt with well by the ref Howard Webb.
    Again the same could be said about the goal mouth tussle after italys 1st goal.

  • Comment number 45.

    In England, we Boo diving and play acting, in Italy it's part of the game. So you would expect it.

    Also, I'm not just talking about diving with the Italians, the accidental stamp on opponents feet etc.

    I would imagine the result in 2006 might have been different if the Italians were all about fair play, but winding up Zidane basically won them the game.

    Also, maybe my eyesight went during the last England match, but I'd say we were pretty clean and didn't surround the ref, and our qualification was just as precarious as theirs.

    Simple reason why Pele is > Maradonna is because he was fairplay, he was football. Maradonna was a more skillful player, but really, if you are that good, don't cheat (and don't take drugs).

  • Comment number 46.

    really happy to see Italy out. Far too often they bore their way through with low margin victories or penalties. Italy are the team I like to watch least in world football.

    Good riddance

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks Rorb for clearing up that its only the Italians who wind up the other team. Are you that naive to believe that no other country winds up the opposition. Zidane is at fault for letting this get to him and headbutting Materazzi. England fans wanted to hang beckham for getting sent off and losing them the game in 98 but if it happens against the Italians they are at fault. How can you Justify such a child like opinion.

  • Comment number 48.

    To0 many sour people are writing on this blog. Italy did play badly in this tounament and did deserve to go out, so this is normal when one batch of players are coming to the end of their careers. Italy will be back, they always have good technical players. I find some of the nearly racist comments about Italians down right offensive by some bloggers and the reason it is racist is because it is showing a degree of hate for one nation, you would think that only Italians cheat in football and no one else. Theses bloggers are very ignorant. Imagine i came on this website slagging off the English as cheats you lot wouldn't be happy about it. I wouldn't do that because I like to be positive about things. Anyone who states that only Italians cheats and trys to con the ref with dirty tactics are very nieve and plain stupid.

  • Comment number 49.

    Rorb # 45

    How do you know Maradona was more skilled than Pele? I doubt you were there watching in his prime and are probably going by grainy youtube footage. Believe me, he was an exceptionally skilled player - there is decent footage out there if you care to search for it.

  • Comment number 50.






  • Comment number 51.

    Onofrio Sanfilippo - While you have every rigth to say what you did about English fans. You have to remember that the world has just witnessed how badly the Italian team cheat. ALL players are guilty of it from time to time, sadly it's part of the modern game. But the extent and the level of cheating, ddiving and trying to influence the referee in this world cup was nothing short of disgusting so you deserve to be not only knocked out but made to look stupid in the process. If that is the future of Italian football, as an Italian you have ALOT to be concerned about as that was embarassing to watch, one word...pathetic!

  • Comment number 52.

    Italy won 4 years ago, thanks to Mazzerati riling Zidane. France with Zidane on the field I believe would have overcome the Italians. However as an Irish man living in France with an Italian wife, I have some insight into this world cup as Ireland have been knocked out first by Italy winning the group and the France in the play offs. The truth of it is, the Irish team is not all that. Italy couldn't beat them in qualifying and France's win was a best dubious. I am not surprised to see both teams go out at this stage. It's not that the Italians are old, I think how football is played has changed, most teams now go with a single attacker a floating midfielder and a solid back four, Italy don't have the players to do this, There is no Forlan for example, or Messi, no roving player. The Italians have more or less got stuck in the 5: 4 : 1 or 4: 4: 2 time warp. The french on the other hand, are a culmination of Domenechs decision 8 years ago to give up on the players he had and ask the old guard to come back out of retirement. The players he had were offended, those who came out of retirement did it for themselves and France not for Domenech for who they had little respect. At that moment he lost his squad and it's been going downhill ever since. Lippi is right, he is at fault for not adapting. I thought he would when I saw their first game. It seems that not only do the South Americans have a tougher group than the Europeans, but they know how to play without fear, which even the Spanish have found hard this world cup.

  • Comment number 53.

    If an Englishman involved cheating in his game and tactics, I'd accept the criticism and hope we get someone to clean up his game. While we aren't perfect, we try to play football (poorly :) ).

    If the Italians (and any other nation, added this for the WuMs), were that good, what's the reason for consistently cheating?

    Just because others do it, doesn't make it the norm for the world leaders in it.

  • Comment number 54.

    The balme has to lie with Lippi's team selections for me - he was too loyal to the old guard of 2006, many of whom should have been left at hiome for me.

    Italy where crying out for a player who could make the difference up the field - someone like Cassano, who for me was criminally left out of this squad. I cannot see how Lippi can justify leaving out Cassano or Balotelli or even Micolli (until he got injured, but this was after he had named his squad) and take the likes of Iaquinta.

    The descision to take of Criscito in the Slovakia game was also one I could not understand. For me he was probably the only player in the azzurri squad to come out of this tournement with the reputation inhanched or at least in tact.

    Hopefully now Prandelli is at the helm Italy should be able to produce the football that the players they have (many of whom didn't get called up due to personal issues Lippi has with them) can produce.

    Prandelli will get the team playing well - Marchisio will play in his proper position - not as an attacking midfielder, hopefullt he likes of Giovincio, Balotelli, etc will be called up and Cassano will finally get the recall that the form he has been in for the last 2 years deserves.

  • Comment number 55.

    Rorb you blinded by loyalty to England. What cheating do italy do that England dont:

    Diving - Nope English players do this (Owen in 98)
    Surrounding the ref - Man Utd are the worst example of this ever!

    name something?

  • Comment number 56.

    Wow I'm surprised no-one has mentioned what I said before this tournament started - Francesco Totti - had an absolutely superb season for Roma and should have been at this world cup, despite his age.

  • Comment number 57.

    It's really great to see a BBC journalist not reaching for the tired old 'Italy are an ageing squad' cliché. Italy's problem has had much less to do with age than it has lack of quality and a failure to find their best team.

    To those who will undoubtedly lambast Cannavaro's performances, of course he isn't the same player that he was four years ago. He has been the world's best defender in what we might consider the post-Maldini era. It is telling that even those commentators who criticised his selection, singularly failed to identify an adequate replacement. At present, Seria A's best defenders simply aren't Italian.

    There has been a failure of Italian football to produce talented creative players for some time - not since Totti has the Azzuri produced a world class trequartista and his own performances were punctuated with poor form and instances of extreme petulance. Italy have produced a series of excellent passers and box-to-box midfielders in recent years but unfortunately haven't had the kind of player who can beat a man and create space for a telling ball. They have also lacked genuine wingers which would allow them to add width do their attacking options - something which has forced them to play a congested midfield game

    Italy also suffer from having too few options in attack, where the majority of their attackers fit the same mould: tall, moderately quick finishers who prefer to play off the shoulder of the last defender. A second striker in the Del Piero or Cassano mould would have given Lippi a different option - although I think the calls for Cassano's inclusion were much more valid last season than they were this season when he had somewhat gone off the boil.

    With limited options, I feel that Lippi had to make the best of what he had. Commitment and work rate (not to mention a little luck) helped them to win in Germany, to ask for the same again was always unlikely.

    It's back to the drawing board for Italy, both in terms of selection and tactical approach

  • Comment number 58.

    Italian club football is overpowered by too many foreign players
    Our team was too slow and the coach does not help by fielding players in unfamiliar positions or
    inisiting with strikers who can not score, Iaquinta/Gillardino..Not enlisting players like Cassano (he single handldy got Sampdoria to chanpions league) due to a personal feud.
    You need some flair and passion.

    To the english fans - I wish you luck on Sunday and believe that you can overcome Germany with our Italian manager ;-)
    BTW gents it is only a game and to make the headelines on the Italian news over people dying in Spains train crash is incorrect.
    The players last night who are paid in a week what most of us earn in 1 or 2 years of REAL work do not deserve to
    progress to the 2nd stage if they do not play with Pride and passion every time they put on the Blue shirt.

    Good luck to the new coach and let's hope that in Italy we can start to think about young people in general but not only in football but
    also in Politics (Berlusconi v Cameron/Clegg) and in the workplace too.

  • Comment number 59.

    Italy have suffered with their league being full of foreign players. Big Money and calls for instant success require the managers to buy an established player for big money instead of blooding in the youngsters who could be grown into a similar player in the future.
    In a way the waining interest in the Italian league and the ever increasing cash thrown around the Premier league is drawing the a lot of players out of Italy which will lead to the younger Italian players getting a chance.
    The biggest problem will be keeping the Italian teams competitive in europe whilst losing big name players so that it aids the national team. This is a problem for England in their not too distant future if they dont comapt the influx of overseas players.

  • Comment number 60.

    The world cup win of four years ago merely papered over the cracks that Italian football has been showing, a lack of young talent coming through the ranks. The next manager should start the re-building process with the aim of the next world cup and start exposing younger players to the international scene, players like Santon, Balotelli, Giovinco should be introduced with players such as Iaquinta and Di Natale making way.

    The failings of the last two finalists could of been foreseen and was evident when Scotland exposed their weaknesses in Euro qualifying.

  • Comment number 61.

    whilst i can agree to an extent with cruyff_14 i cannot excuse the omission of cassano. he has been streets ahead of the trequartisti on show in serie a for a couple of years now and is a huge factor in the inclusion of Pazzini. do you think also that quagliarella may have had slighltly more of an impact if he'd been allowed to play more than half a game in 3? this Italy team was equipped just fine to at least get out of the group stages but his insistence on sticking with Iaquinta (if we're going to talk about going off the boil what's he done since 2006?) has cost them even that luxury.

    the annoying thing for Italian supporters is that the team COULD have been equipped to reach the last 8 at least. there is no sudden shortage of Italian talent. the top scorer in Serie A was given precious little game time as well. an option after the NZ fiasco might have been to start di natale, quagliarella and pazzini in the big targetman role, but no he stuck to his guns playing iaquinta after he'd lit up the 1st 2 games. even angelo palombo would've been a decent shout at CM as he can not only tackle but spot a pass too. and yet he played 0 minutes.

    does anyone here seriously believe that if Cassano had been in the squad and started those three games, that Italy would be in this position? i reckon they'd be top and have at least 7 points, but that's just my opinion. the fact is with this team, not squad cos he barely utilised the squad at his disposal, they have 2 points and a draw with New Zealand, who were only here because Australia decided to play in Asia

  • Comment number 62.

    the sickening near racist comments, and gloating by england fans regarding italy's exit make me realise why i so dislike the england football team !

    How many WC have italy won ?
    How many WC have england won? In fact when was the last time england won anything ? A very long time ago !

    You have nothing to gloat about !

  • Comment number 63.

    Re no 51, "WhoSaidThat", I apologise, I forget that England are the world's leaders in promoting fair play... How funny, the self righteousness and arrogance is mind boggling... Ra Ra Ra, that's just not British... Oh please give it a rest :D

    May I ask how Italy have cheated anyone in this World Cup? Examples please?

    As per usual the same old opinion clouded on a myth about our Football arises and you guys look for any little opportunity to have a pop, seriously think before you speak.

    Have we had the opposition players sent off like the Ivory Coast did to Brazil or the Chileans did to the Swiss?

    Please don't go on about the penalty awarded against NZ became video evidence clearly showed he was having his shirt pulled and if that been England everyone would have shouted from the roof tops that was Stonewall penalty.

    So why is everyone piping up about cheating? surely the issue to be discussed was the standard of the football we played and why Lippi chose to leave our best players at home! But you can't go on about now can you because England's standard of football has been just as bad and you guys were considered one of the favourites... no one had any expectations from this Italy side, so stop venting your own frustrations with your team on others... I imagine you will all be all having a go at the Germans next.

  • Comment number 64.

    also well said about balotelli, giovinco and totti. these are some world class players and super mario could've been a perfect super sub coming on to change games. the mind boggles as to how lippi can justify his personal grudges and not base his squad on footballing talent

  • Comment number 65.

    Rorb you blinded by loyalty to England. What cheating do italy do that England dont:

    Diving - Nope English players do this (Owen in 98)
    Surrounding the ref - Man Utd are the worst example of this ever!

    name something?


    Italy v's New Zealand: Everytime FALLON(I think) jumped for a header against CANNAVARO he held his face like he had been shot and on more than one occasion hit the floor rolling about, only to get up and to no surprise be absolutely fine. While I agree some Man U players are terrible for surrounding the ref and yes Owen was a vilid point. I think what people are trying to say is that the Italians take what is already a bad part of the modern game and REALLY push it to the limit. They are so shameless about how they throw themselves about it's embarassing.

  • Comment number 66.

    There are a few comments here that show that some people don't understand the game of football. Why revert to saying we are divers, boring and showing joy that we exited?

    Is it a fluke that we have eached 6 world cup finals and 8 semi-finals? We have produced some of the world's great players so lets not say we have been lucky in the past. You make your own luck.

    The facts are there, and there are no excuses for going out in a group which we should have one. The mistake made was leaving out too many good players back home and relying on the old guard from 2006. Lippi needed to let go and come up with a fresh squad. Now it's time to re-build and look forward, and in a way going through to the next phase, and possibly to the quaters would have papered over the cracks. This way we can say goodbye to the old and bring in the new.

  • Comment number 67.

    Well said nicia

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    So you whole basis of calling the Italians cheats in this down to cannavaro going down when a 6'6 lad (Fallon was his name you are correct) was jumping into him leading with his elbows. If you watched the half time analysis of that game both Desailly and Viera stated that he was leading with his elbows and had caught the defenders a few times. I admit in the past tournaments Italy have had their moments but no worse then any other team.

    I have never heard an English man call anyone from Brazil a cheat but surely you cant name any worse incident an Italian has done than that of Rivaldo holding his face when someone kicked a ball at his feet!

  • Comment number 70.

    "It's done, it's a dark chapter in our history and something which is to be avenged."

    Avenged??? You've only got yourselves to blame!

  • Comment number 71.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that any side has relied on the same players in two consecutive World Cups and enjoyed any success since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.

    And the reason seems clear enough: four years is a long time, particularly in a tournament that is usually won by an experienced side at the peak of their collective powers.

  • Comment number 72.

    Italy have become synonymous it seems with diving and being petulant. This is one trait which has blighted the game and whilst Italy do dive they are no worse than many other teams, however have been braded with this name so whenever a player goes down lightly it’s “what a bunch of cheats”.
    Does anyone hear not remember Rivaldo’s shameless collapse to the ground after the ball was passed to his feet? Or what about Michael Owen diving to win a penalty against Argentina, Beckham/Rooney overreacting and seeing red or what about last week when Keita got Kaka sent off. So let’s not be too quick to cast the first stone. Zidane is a well known hot head, but he should have known better than to react the way he did when Materazzi said “I’d rather have your sister”. After all imagine the sledging than Ian Bell gets on a day to day basis, maybe they should chat.
    I am glad that Howard Webb took a firm line with this in the game as I do believe diving needs to be stamped out, but before everyone gets carried away with Italy getting their just desserts lets not be too hasty to look at Slovakia. Their keeper went down after a slight touch prompting Howard Webb to nearly grab him and get him to his feet, that was pathetic time wasting and with over 30 minutes left. This was to set the tone for Slovakia falling about and having little sit downs throughout the second half wearing the clock away. No team is whiter than white and at the end of the day most footballers are pretty wet characters.
    In my opinion Italy were deserved winners of the last world cup, ok they didn’t play sexy football but they knew how to win. They went into the world cup on a massive undefeated run, so they were clearly doing something right. And whilst everyone seems to think that Italy fluked it, let us not remember how close they seem to come every time, Finalist in ‘94 European finalist in ’00 both matches they should have won.
    This said, this time around they were much below par. The 2006 team were an end of an era team, and I think post 2006 was a good time for Italy to look to the future and start again. There are exciting prospects in Italian football you just have to look to the U21s. I just hope that the slate is wiped clean and Prandelli starts a fresh. Italy deserved to finish where they did with that squad.
    All eyes on England now, lets hope they get through….penalties, surely not?!

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    clummers - you're right the Rivaldo incident was legendary, ironically I watched it on youtube yesterday and it had me in stitches. But we arent talking about Brazil here. If you were to ask me I would say that the majority of osuth american teams are so skillful it's infuritaing to see them dive when they really dont need to. I think we are talking about Ital here and I am not alone when I say that you cant help but think they deserve the bad run they had partyl down to the team not being as good as we had all expected, but by turning their sheer desperation to qualify into a pantomime everytime they steppe don the pitch. Yes I saw the NZ game and the half time highlights, they picked one of probably 7 incidents and on that occasion there was contact. I'd bet you a pint if we saw all the highlights it wouldnt be the case. It's very easy to label me a bias, bitter or frustrated England fan but I'm not. I agree all teams are quilty of cheating these days. I find it frsutrating when people cant see that some teams are considerable more guilty than others and I dont just single out Italy in that staement but lets be honest they were pretty bad this tournament.

  • Comment number 75.

    Drogba has to be the biggest diver/cheat in the world!

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    How am I defending the Azzurri, they've disgraced themselves, I just don't see how you and others can go on about diving when that is not the issue here, its not relevant to the campaign we've just had!

    If you're going to have a go then please address the issue at hand, that being the standard of football and the managers squad selection... It is so boring hearing the same old tosh every major tournament, divers this, divers that, please change the record.

  • Comment number 78.

    Onofrio Sanfilippo - I see the Italians as a nation or as ignorant about cheating as their team. If you can honestly say that none of the Italian players cheated, dived or simulated a foul in order to get a player booked (may I remind you of the New Zealand game) then you are deluded mate!. I'm not saying England are perfect, not at all I'd be stupid to do so. But so far I honestly cannot remember seeing any of the England squad rolling about like they have been shot just becuae they were out jumped by a forward. We can all be blindeed by our loyalties but seriously, stop before you try to defend a team that the entire world has witnessed to be cheats in every game and more than any other team so far regardless of people actually being sent off.
    The question is not if the Italians do it, or the Portugese or Germans or Brazilians or anyone else. The real question is how so many England Fans genuinely Believe their team doesn't do it. Stevie G is famous for Diving, Rooney does it. Professional football is about winning, Players are taught how to simulate, how to dive and how to feign injury it's part of the game, but I will have some of what you are smoking if it removes the sight of England players faking it, it might cure other issues too. You lot sound like the demon child of Wenger.... Didn't see it.


    So annoying, read my threads. I am not someone who is claiming England doesn do it!!! I know they do. But lets look at this world cup and lets look at how many times we have seen the Italians simulate a fould and then lets compares ALL OTHER TEAMS....just stop and seriously think if there can be a fair comparisson between the Itlaians and anyone else? everyone does it yes, but to the extent of the Italians....I honetly dont think so. I am not talking about anything other than what we have seen THIS WORLD CUP

  • Comment number 79.

    snottyboots123: great name very apt, and how deluded.
    WhoSaidThat: Learn to spell will you?
    The rest of you anti europeans, you have Germany in the next round, hope your team practiced it's penalty kicks.

  • Comment number 80.

    Whosaidthat, I agree that the Italians do have their moments but I think your claim that they are by far the worst team is a little off the mark. I think if you were to watch the game against Slovakia you will see that they were far worse than the Italians. The Keeper especially.

    I am not blind enought ot think that they are Innocent but currently its all part of the game and every team does it and I for one would love to see it stamped out as it has blighted many italians careers for example Totti would be regarded in a lot higher esteem in England if he Just used his undoubted skills and not did some play acting. I just dont think they are the worst.

    Also SnootyBoots. you obviously are about 12 and have no idea about football.

  • Comment number 81.

    @Onofrio Sanfilippo - your comments make good reading and it is a genuine pleasure to read a standard of English that leaves most of the native contributors to this blog in the shade.
    However there are some things you need to accept. For me your 1982 win was an ablsolute fluke, I remember it well, you deserved to go out in the qualifying rounds and if not there then in the game against Argentina, where the referee was a disaster ( who will not forget Maradona's shirt torn to shreds?); you should never have got to the final in USA 1994, Spain did, and Tassotti's elbowing of Luis Enrique was a disgrace but no doubt he'd been put up to it; 2006 Zidane was and possibly still is an idiot who should have known better ( my feeling is that he was getting increasingly annoyed with his own performance rather than Materazzi's wind ups ) and finally, if my own Republic of Ireland had a little more courage we would have won in Bari and Dublin and not be moaning Thierry Henry's handball. But this time Trap can have the last laugh.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lippi has to take major portion of the blame, but some portion will go to players as well and the remaining part goes to the refree as he dis allowed 2 perfectly legitimate goals.

    Lippi did the following mistakes:
    1.Bad team selection for games ignoring Quagliarella,Pazzini etc.
    2.Worst squad selection by not including playmakers like Cassano,Rossi,Bolatelli,Boriello etc.
    3.No gameplan as he did not have a fixed formation also in his mind.
    4.Relying on players like Iquinta who must not be there in the squad itself.
    5.Could not persuade DelPiero & Totti to come back for one last shot at glory.

    Then comes the team members like Pepe,Natale who played for themselves and wanted the glory for them and not for the team.

    Then comes the refree, i am not sure whether he did it purposefully or it was a human error since the ball had crossed the line and in the other case Quagliarella was clearly not offside.Refree has gotto take part of the BLAME.FIFA MUST do something, maybe introduce refrees that stand near goal post like the EUROPA cup.

    But a valuable lesson learnt and i only hope that all the old legs above 31 years of age retire now and Cesare Prandelli brings in youths with passion, pace, creativity and desire to win in the true Italian way.

  • Comment number 83.

    I enjoyed reading this blog. I have enjoyed reading the comments more, however. I find it remarkable how sour some England fans have been towards one of the giants of football leaving the tournament. I totally agree that Italy simply weren't good enough and didn't deserve their place in the last sixteen, not that England truly played well enough to get through the group stages, however to be so overjoyed and critical of Italian football makes me laugh. Indeed Serie A is not the same as it once was, however, Inter Milan are the champions of Europe and although implemented by Mourinho they did win the tournament in an extremely Italian fashion- strogn defence and clinical in the final third. Also, surely England fans have seen that during the Capello era, most of all in the World Cup itself, England are playing under a very Italian mantra. More concentrating on not losing the game than winning it.

    Don't get me wrong I am England til I die, but I am a football fan first and foremost and to suggest that Italy haven't contributed to some of the great parts of the game is just absurd. Also i know others have touched on this but diving is part of the modern game like it or not and I think if you asked every single football fan in the world or player would they dive to win their country a penalty in the world cup final to win them the game- no one would think for a second- and if you believe you are noble enough to think you wouldn't think of it this way would you care if your club or country won the most prestigious trophy due to a penalty won by a dive- you may go 'ooo wen the penalty is given' but you would still be jumping for joy when the ball hits the back of the net.

    Love England. Love Football- ps. I may be biased as my gf is Italian!

  • Comment number 84.

    England have 11 players from the 2006 squad don't they? Would probably have been more too if Ferdinand, Hargreaves and Beckham been fit.

    Italy have plenty of good young players coming through, they have the problem that we will have in 5 or 6 years though. When the money rolled in in the mid 90s the big clubs bought a series of foreign players and developed an over-reliance on imported talent. Something we are very much guilty of ourselves. Not many good young English players coming through, Wilshere looks exceptional but will he play for a top team? Giovinco has had similar problems at Juventus, the coaches are under so much pressure that quite often they feel they can't play a younger player for fear of outright castigation if they lose the game.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    WhoSaidThat - I think your pretty much spot on, the problem is in these forums you get people like SnottyBoots123 who doesn’t put things so eloquently as you do and tends to ruff peoples feathers up and turns arguments into "my dads got a faster car than yours" sort of thing!

    bottom line in my opinion....Italy have produced some great football throughout history, they are a big name for a reason. They bit like the Germans, know how to win matches.

    This year they were very poor and did go down far too easily when things weren’t going their way. The only way to remedy this is to have a better team that don’t need to resort to these tactics.

    We are not a nation of cheats so lets stop that silly drivel now. England do have (on the whole) a more honest approach to football than most nations. However Italy shouldn’t be given the tag of being the most unsporting nation in the world.

    Good luck on Sat, i just hope there isn’t the usual anti-German rubbish that always seems to go along with these encounters!

  • Comment number 87.

    Just for anyone's information. This was NOT the team which won the WC in 2006. Lazy journalism if anyone says it is. In 2006, compared to this one, just 2 (TWO) who played yesterday played in that final. With late subs from 2 others. Pirlo obviously made a big difference yesterday when he came on and you can see that he was a big reason why they won it in 2006.

    So, its NOT the same team, please stop saying it is. Its lazy journalism.

  • Comment number 88.

    well said hogan1987

  • Comment number 89.

    to snootyboots123

    Keep dreaming for another 44 years, pal!

  • Comment number 90.

    And whilst i am at it - the same for France. Only 2 (TWO) of this years WC regulars were in the France final in 2006, bar a Malouda substitute. Google the team sheets that day and see for yourself.


    France and Italy 2010 are basically NOT the same teams of 2006.

  • Comment number 91.

    In my life time Italy seem to flit between imploding or going close to winning the tournament. For example:

    WC 1990 - Good. Lost on the lottery that is a penalty shootout in S/F.
    Euro 1992 - Did not qualify.
    WC 1994 - Runners Up. Again only by penalties.
    Euro 1996 - Dismal.
    WC 1998 - Never really got going but lost on penalties again in last 16.
    Euro 2000 - Runners Up. Lost to Golden Goal.
    WC 2002 - Dismal.
    Euro 2004 - Dismal.
    WC 2006 - Champions!
    Euro 2008 - Dismal
    WC 2010 - Dismal

    Although four of their last five tournaments have not been good they won in 2006. Accordingly, they are due another good tournament or two in the next decade. Certainly WC 2014, Euro 2016 and WC 2018 they'll probably get to the final in one of those.

    PS. I have vague memories of WC86 and Euro88 but my memories of Italy in those tournaments are even more vague so I cannot comment here.

  • Comment number 92.

    A number of posts suggesting that the new teams should be built around up and coming stars such as Balotelli. Really? Balotelli representing Italy? We are not talking of France, England or Germany here. It is Italy we are talking about.
    My favourite Italian player was Enzo Shiffo of Belgium. Hope Italy can learn from Belgium some day..

  • Comment number 93.

    What goes around , ultimately come around, and Italy have taken a big dose of humble pie here. The huge cracks in their style of football, and FA have revealed themselves. Serie A is also coming to terms with foreign imports on a scale similar to the premiership so we have to see how they cope with this going forward.
    As predictable as their style may have been to-date, it always produced the goods, and before everyone points the finger at their defensive displays, lets not forget that England are more or less adopting this template through Capello. Never thought I'd say it, but England's fortune is that they have a more imaginative midfield and attack (on their day anyway!)

  • Comment number 94.

    I think all these English fans are just jealous - because their girlfriends and wives fancy the Italian team. Even without Totti!
    Guess there's only Rooney for them now...

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    NK2971 as you say Italy have always relied on their defensive displays and in years gone by they have produced some of the best defenders to have played the game. The trouble is that we have in the last few years not produced any players up to this standard.
    It is something Prandelli needs to look into and the FA to sort.
    England currently have their best chance to do something a world cup for a long time but they will have to do it the hard way. Good luck to you.

  • Comment number 97.

    The 2006 final was the swansong of two ageing teams and the past four years the story of how they were not really replaced. World cups really are won by fine margins and in 2006 Italy didn't look convincing in the group stage, scraped past Australia with ten men and a last minute penalty, impressed against Ukraine, got two goals in the last minute of extra time in the semi and won the final on penalties. Their defence was massively solid and up front they had enough to get the odd goal in tight matches. This time their defence is a shambles and their attack clueless - and this has been increasingly evident for two years. In the confederation cup last year it showed against good teams: now it shows against almost everyone. Certainly not the referee's fault and hard to blame Lippi. You can't win the world cup, you can't even have a good team if your good players are too old and there's noone good enough to replace them.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    hidden message above guys :)

  • Comment number 100.

    Great comment MESSITHEBEST.

    With the Maradonna issue, he obviously didnt go onto that pitch in 86 thinking I will cheat them out of this world cup. A opportunity presented itself from a poor Steve Hodge clearence when he was up against peter Shilton (Possibly a foot taller than he) and he must have thought I will never win this header I will put my hand up. Shilton should never have been beaten by this and the ref should have spotted it. This dies not make him a cheat just Lucky I reckon. I am sure hundreds of footballers before and after have tried something similar and been caught by the ref. The ref was at fault not Maradonna.


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