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Euro 2008: Is Italy finished?


Is this Italy team washed up?

It is a question that would have seemed absurd heading into the European Championships, but a fair one after watching the Italians drag through Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Netherlands. Yes, a few calls and bounces going the other way might have made it a different game, but the Dutch dominated from start to finish, leaving plenty of questions about The ‘Azzurri’.

First and foremost, is it time for major midfield changes? When the AC Milan trio of Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini took the field I’m sure some non-Milan fans asked why the entire midfield of a team that couldn’t qualify for the Champions League was guiding Italy. Fair point indeed. Robert Donadoni will have some tough decisions to make before Italy’s second match against Romania. Can he break up that Milan trio and start Alessandro Del Piero and Daniele De Rossi? I don’t think too many people will criticize him if he does.

What about the back-line? When a team gives up three goals you tend to look at the defense, but I’m not sure the back-line was as bad as the midfield. Consider the three Dutch goals. The first came on a freaky play where Christian Panucci was on the ground out of bounds, playing Ruud van Nistelrooy onside while his teammates thought Ruud was offside. The second goal was a defensive breakdown, but the third goal came directly on a late-game counterattack after the Italians had already switched to a three-man defense.

In other words, the defense wasn’t the issue (though I wonder if Marco Materazzi will be fit for Romania). The issue was a midfield that just couldn’t match the Dutch team’s energy, creativity and ability to hold on to the ball. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think the Dutch had defensive midfielders who could protect that shaky Dutch defense, but Nigel de Jong and Orlando Engelaar did an amazing job shutting down Pirlo and Co.

What do you think? Can Italy regroup and survive Group C? Is it too late? Is Italy just too old to survive this brutal group? Share your thoughts below.


  1. I guess I’m just writing for myself, but need to say it: every ref is actually interpretating the rules accoding to his personal opinion. how many penalties are right? how many back takles deserve a red card? not mentioning the tons of off-sides never called right. The rules are there, the refs interpretate them. I mean, this time if the ref would have called for an off-side, no one from Oranges would have argued it. It was clear that Panucci was totally away from the action, then the ref could still judge the off-side to be as it was: an off-side. Period. That would have not changed the result very much (I’m not quite sure, the inertia of the match could lead to a huge difference at that point), anyway Italy is not liked at all, and it shows ;o)

  2. i posted directly to the effect of the question on this post earlier, so i’m just copying from the other post and pasting alot here… but this discussion is really funny. “the italian league is boring and defensive” what was the reasoning? because they scored 0.3 more goals per game…. lol….

    i agree with eugene that the scoreline flattered the dutch. all i have to say is that holland have some serious defensive issues to fix if they are to go deep into the tournament… i’m not sure that france was the right team against whom to judge romania’s attacking prowess since france’s defense was one of the most solid i’ve seen in the tournament so far. and if henry is deemed fit (even though i still don’t know how trezeguet is left out for anelka…. this reminds me of EJ/altidore, cooper, some US type BS) france will not look the same in these next few matches.

    sure enough, holland punished italy yesterday and italy seem sure to go out now (even though we have to remember italy historically play poorly in first matches to the tune of losing to haiti 1-0, wc 1974…), but i am still not a believer in all this panic talk. sure, offensively holland look stronger then they have since wc 1998 but as eugene points out, holland scored on counter attacks off of two dead-ball chances that were cleared off the line, and there were at least two more clear chances squandered by the italians. now, they also squandered a few as well (van nistelrooy, anyone?), but if i’m watching holland as a fan (which i most certainly am not) they cannot play so poorly down the back again…


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