World Cup: Italy vs. Paraguay (Match Day Commentary)

World Cup: Italy vs. Paraguay (Match Day Commentary)

World Cup 2010

World Cup: Italy vs. Paraguay (Match Day Commentary)

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ItalyCrest ParaguayCrest

By AVI CREDITOR

The defending World Cup champions kick off their title defense in a Group F showdown with South American side Paraguay at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town (2:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com).

Italy isn't the favorite to repeat as champions, but with a winable group and a veteran-laden roster, anything is possible for the Azzurri.

Paraguay isn't at full strength, with star striker Salvador Cabanas out while still continuing his miraculous recovery after being shot in the head at a Mexican bar many months ago. That hardly means that La Albirroja can't be a dangerous foe. Lucas Barrios leads a potentially potent strike force that will try to break down Italy's organized defense, and Paraguay has dedicated its World Cup run to Cabanas.

I'll be providing live commentary on the match, but please feel free to share any thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy the match (commentary after the jump).

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POSTGAME – That's all for me, as the Group F favorites play to a 1-1 draw. Keep checking SBI for all the World Cup coverage you can handle. Thanks for following along, and have a great night!

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POSTGAME – The Buffon injury didn't factor into today's outcome, because Paraguay hardly pushed forward in the second half, but Italian fans will hold their collective breath and pray that their No. 1 keeper is good to go from here on out.

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POSTGAME – Justo Villar will take some flak for his miscue on Pepe's corner kick, and rightfully so. The Italians deserved to score considering how they controlled the run of play, but they were definitely gifted De Rossi's equalizer.

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POSTGAME – Italy was the better team over the course of the 90 minutes, and give Marcello Lippi some credit, because his substitutions helped the Italians control the second half.

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90th Minute – And that's it! Paraguay survives and earns a hard-fought-for point.

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90th Minute – Seconds remain as Italy makes one final charge.

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90th Minute – Vera overbooks his touch on a counterattack, but Chiellini bails him out with a foul. Free kick for Paraguay just inside Italy's half.

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90th Minute – I'm not looking at any stats, but possession feels like Italy 80 percent, Paraguay 20.

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90th Minute – Vuvuzelas blaring at full blast as the final minutes tick away.

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90th Minute – Three minutes of stoppage time on the way.

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89th Minute – Awful goal kick from Villar goes out to gift Italy possession. Perhaps Paraguay feels more comfortable on the defensive?

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87th Minute – Great cross from Iaquinta but nobody's there to hammer it home. Paraguay is on life support right now.

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86th Minute – Cleared away for a corner. Italy is bringing the pressure.

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86th Minute – Di Natale draws a foul in a dangerous area. Free kick from the left as Italy pushes people forward for the winner.

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84th Minute – Another late challenge from Camoranesi, and that likely should've been his second yellow.

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83rd Minute – Montolivo nearly scores out of nowhere! Dangerous shot through traffic, and Villar dives to his right and just gets a palm on it.

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82nd Minute – Cannavaro clears the corner, and Italy will move the other way.

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81st Minute – No.

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81st Minute – Vera extends to reach a Santana cross and earns a corner of Criscito. Can Paraguay score off another set piece?

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80th Minute – Great distribution from Di Natale leads to a Pepe shot from outside the box, but Villar plays the short-hop well and makes a clean save.

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78th Minute – Nope. Villar with a confident catch under pressure from Iaquinta.

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78th Minute – Di Natale wins a corner. Deja vu for Italy?

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77th Minute – No more subs for either side.

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75th Minute – Oscar Cardozo getting set to check in now, despite the ankle injury. Gerardo Martino will have two able goal scorers up top for the remainder of this match. Lucas Barrios checks out. Quiet night for Barrios, and he was marking De Rossi on the Italian goal, though the tally wasn't his fault. That's on the keeper.

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74th Minute – Italy pressing and pressing. Paraguay will have to dig deep to deny the Italians for the next 16+ minutes.

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71st Minute – Di Natale comes on for Gilardino, as Lippi seeks a winner. Neither team wants a draw, but you'd think that Paraguay would be the happier of the two teams if the current scoreline holds.

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70th Minute – Gilardino with a turn in the area, but he's smothered before firing on goal.

Yellow card for Camoranesi, stomping on Vera's foot extremely late.

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69th Minute – Roque Santa Cruz replaces Valdez. Can he put Paraguay back on top?

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68th Minute – Italy back on the offensive with some deep possession, but Paraguay doesn't break.

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66th Minute – Santana mis-hits a great chance! Barrios with a great pass from the end line to the substitute, but his shot was hooked wide.

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65th Minute – Montolivo dives in the box. Drink.

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64th Minute – Villar came off his line and completely missed Pepe's corner kick. De Rossi was being face-guarded by Barrios but still managed to slot home the all-crucial goal. 

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63rd MinuteGOAL ITALY!! DANIELE DE ROSSI TOUCHES HOME THE CORNER! 1-1

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62nd Minute – Caceres gets a yellow card for tripping up Montolivo. Fair call.

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61st Minute – One remaining sub for Italy, two for Paraguay.

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60th Minute – Jonathan Santana comes on for Torres. A wonderous free kick in a 60-minute shift for Torres tonight.

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59th Minute – Villar outjumps Pepe for a Camoranesi cross. The sub has already done more than Marchisio.

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58th Minute – Substitution for Italy, and it's Camoranesi for Marchisio. His experience alone should help Italy's collective effort.

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56th Minute – Montolivo skips a shot on goal, but Villar is all over it. That was another Robert Green special.

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55th Minute – Vera comes close! A bad clearance gave Vera a right-angled shot inside the area, but he couldn't bend Jabulani on frame.

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54th Minute – Nice effort though. A tighter cross, and Pepe's in on goal with an easy header. He was wide open.

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53rd Minute – Pepe goes for the spectacular bicycle kick off the cross from Zambrotta. Whiff.

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52nd Minute – Italy defends the corner, and Morel misses from distance off the clearance.

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52nd Minute – Slow pace and no continuity either way.

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51st Minute – Considering changing my car alarm to the vuvuzela noise. What robber would want to be within earshot of that car for more than 10 seconds?

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50th Minute – Italian dive. Drink.

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49th Minute – Ball staying in the middle third of the field. Paraguay's just fine with that.

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46th Minute – Gianluigi Buffon has been subbed off for Frederico Marchetti. Not a good sign for Italy. Has to be an injury to Buffon there. In addition to that, Lippi only has two subs to work with now to fix the offense.

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HALFTIME – Paraguay's defense is a step ahead of the Italians and shows no signs of breaking down. Is Antonio Di Natale the answer?

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HALFTIME – The scoreline would likely make the Italians press even more if they were in any other group. With games against New Zealand and Slovakia remaining, it's not exactly panic time for Marcello Lippi.

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HALFTIME – Antolin Alcaraz has the goal that the world will be talking about if this result holds. As expected, Italy controlled the run of play, but Paraguay's organized and stubborn defense hasn't allowed anything dangerous to make its way toward the goal.

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45th Minute – There's the halftime whistle. 1-0 Paraguay. Dios mio.

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45th Minute – Paraguay looks to kill off the remaining time in the first half. A dream half for Gerardo Martino's squad.

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43rd Minute – We'll see if this makes the Italians press even more. Things were going just fine, but the marking on the free kick was poor.

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42nd Minute – De Rossi and Cannavaro were beaten on Torres' free kick, and Alcaraz' timing was impeccable.

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40th Minute – Italy had been dominating, but Paraguay finished its chance. Just the way the South Americans like it.

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39th MinuteGOAL PARAGUAY!!! Alcaraz rises up and heads home the free kick!! 1-0 Paraguay! WOW

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38th Minute – Harsh foul call on Chiellini leads to a potential Paraguay chance with the free kick.

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36th Minute – A couple of more chances in the attacking third for Italy, but the final pass hasn't been there for the World Cup holders.

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35th Minute – Caceres with another long pass, but it's off the touch line. These long balls aren't going to fool or beat Italy's defense when they are that predictable.

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32nd Minute – Valdez shoots from distance, but doesn't come close. He's a Borussia Dortmund player as well.

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29th Minute – Alcaraz with a full extension to clear away an Italy corner. Paraguayan defenders exactly where they need to be at all times thus far.

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28th Minute – Criscito earns a free kick deep in the attacking third for Italy.

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27th Minute – Valdez is narrowly offside. Had an open crack on goal if not for the flag. 

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24th Minute – Pepe's bending free kick is headed away, and the return ball into the box is headed wide by Gilardino. Paraguay's defense is holding up to some early pressure.

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23rd Minute – Torres with a GREAT chance for Paraguay, but he appeared to slip while planting for the 20-yard shot and hit it well wide.

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22nd Minute – Montolivo with a steal and a breakaway, but his shot from 20 yards wasn't hit with full force. Easy save on the ground for Justo Villar. Every keeper in the world makes that save. Except Robert Green.

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21st Minute – Nice play off the short corner, earns another one for Paraguay.

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20th Minute – First real chance for Paraguay coming, as Vera earns a corner.

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19th Minute – Zambrotta's teasing cross is a bit too far for Gilardino. Not a ton of space to work with for the striker either. Paraguay's defense is keeping its shape and marking well.

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17th Minute – Non-existent night from Lucas Barrios so far. The Argentina-born striker has three goals in three games since joining La Albirroja. He's a teammate of Neven Subotic at Borussia Dortmund.

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15th Minute – Today's drinking game: Italy dives. Hope you put on your drinking hat.

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13th Minute – Paraguay has a short-lived spell of possession before kicking it deep and letting Buffon take over for Italy. Going to have to do better than that to crack this back line.

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11th Minute – De Rossi falls down and grabs his ankle seemingly without being touched. Maybe Brian McBride's playing with his voodoo doll.

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10th Minute – Iaquinta gets away with a shove and feeds Montolivo, who has another shot from the top of the area blocked.

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9th Minute – More possession for Italy, but nothing stellar in the final third just yet.

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6th Minute – Criscito with a dangerous cross toward Pepe, but give credit to Morel for getting his leg up to kick that out.

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6th Minute – Good to see that Italy ditched the sky blue kits they busted out in the Confederations Cup. This blue is the real Azzurri.

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5th Minute – Montolivo's shot is blocked, but Italy is controlling the run of play early on. No real surprise there.

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4th Minute – Zambrotta earns a corner on the right.

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3rd Minute – An early long ball from Da Silva tries to beat Italy's slower defenders over the top, but nothing doing on that chance.

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1st Minute – Montolivo already down with a bit of a knock on a tough challenge from Riveros.

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1st Minute – And the Italians' title defense is officially underway.

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PREGAME – What are your predictions for the match? I'll go with 1-0 Italy. Gilardino finds a second-half winner in a sloppy, slippery Group F opener.

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PREGAME – It's a rainy night in Cape Town, something that could definitely affect the outcome.

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PREGAME – No Oscar Cardozo or Roque Santa Cruz for Paraguay. Cardozo is still on the mend with an ankle injury, and Santa Cruz isn't in the greatest of form, having a forgettable season for Manchester City.

The biggest omission for Marcello Lippi's squad is Antonio Di Natale. Andrea Pirlo is injured and is likely to miss the first two games of Italy's title defense.

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PREGAME – Here are the starting lineups:

ITALY

———————Gilardino———————-

—Pepe———–Marchisio———-Iaquinta—

———-De Rossi————–Montolivo——–

–Criscito–Chiellini–Cannavaro–Zambrotta–

———————–Buffon———————-

PARAGUAY

————Barrios————-Valdez———–

—-Torres—–Caceres—–Riveros—–Vera—

–Morel Rodriguez–Alcaraz–Da Silva–Bonet–

———————–Villar———————–

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