Slovakia gave me a heart-break in Johannesburg! Italy had a realistic chance of going through to the second stage with even a 1-0 win against Slovakia. But what we saw tonight was different. It was a resurgent Slovakia that played against the world champions. Italy made the two changes in their starting line-up, that I had predicted in my last blog post. Claudio Marchisio and Alberto Gilardino were left out. They replaced Gilardino with Antonio Di Natale as I expected, but Gennaro Gattuso was the replacement for Marchisio. They also paid the price for this decision. They had to call back Gattuso and induct Andrea Pirlo in the second half; all too late.
It was a poor defence that spoiled Italy’s chances in the world cup. There was nobody to safeguard Federico Marchetti and their goal. Even Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini were playing forward. Daniele Di Rossi didn’t have any role to play in the match. Di Rossi is at his best when he can play as an attacking midfielder. The out-of-form Riccardo Montolivo was passing the ball to places where there was no Italian player! Fabio Quagliarella was the livewire they were looking for, but it was too late for his guerilla strikes too. They played well towards the end, but it was their lapse in defence that denied them a win and place in the second stage.
It is sure that there will be some changes in the Italian team soon. This could be the last international tournament for some of the players including Cannavaro, and also for the coach Marcello Lippi. There is hope for Italy in young bloods like Simone Pepe and Quagliarella. Italy are out, but the shows goes on! Waka… waka…