It was supposed to be easy; Italy was put into one of the weakest groups in the tournament and almost guaranteed at least a spot in the last 16.
Well, the group stages are almost over and the Italian team is on the outside looking in. Fans are shocked, enemies are thrilled, and some analysts are puzzled. But watching the team play it’s clear that they lacked the skill and motivation needed to advance in this tournament.
Some people will blame it on questionable coaching decisions, others will blame the goal that should’ve, could’ve been but you can’t play 10 amazing minutes of soccer and expect to be a contender. (Where did Fabio Quagliarella come from?) Slovakia knew its strengths and stuck to them, no funny business. They played well and deserved to move on to the next round.
Coach Marcello Lippi who retied after the game, blamed himself for the brutal performance by his team. Fabio Cannavaro and Genaro Gattuso are both in their thirties and have played their last games on the international stage. Italy has plenty of young talent waiting to take their places which means a much stronger team will be put to together for the 2012 Euro Cup.
Still, it’s ciao ciao for now!
Paraguay finished group play with a boring 0-0 draw against New Zealand but also advanced. They will take on an interesting team from Japan who sent Denmark packing with a 3-1 win today. This game has potential to be a snooze fest or a high scoring affair so if you like surprises tune in.
The Netherlands remain undefeated in South Africa, edging Cameroon 2-1. Not only are they perfect in this tournament but they have yet to show any signs of major weakness. Slovakia had its moment of glory today, ousting the defending champs from the tournament but a match against the Netherlands will put an end to their run.
FYI: The European soccer power houses are losing their gears.
Day 14 Results
Japan 3-1 Denmark
Netherlands 2-1 Cameroon
Slovakia 3-2 Italy
Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand