Monday, June 9, 2008

Game 6: The Fall of Rome

What a difference two years can make. The defending World Cup champions have not looked this bad ever in a European Championship. Sure there was some controversy on the opening goal from Ruud king of garbage goals van Nistelrooy, was Panucci still involved in the play? Did he intentionally leave the playing surface? I don't know let the experts (Tommy Smyth and Julie Foudy according to the worldwide leader in sports) debate his issue, for me this was a symptom of much bigger problems for the Azzuri. Yes the Italians are old, but this can be overcome. What cannot be overcome is the decisions of Roberto Donadoni. Losing the opening match to the Dutch is the least of Italy's worries right now. Italy will not win this tournament playing in this 4-3-3 formation with Di Natale, Ambrosini, and Gattuso all in the starting lineup. For De Rossi and Perrotta to remain on the bench was absolutely mind boggling to any Italian supporter. It was obvious that Cannavoro cannot be replaced, and his absence will be further proof that the Italians will not reach the semifinals. Luca Toni looked like he forgot how to score, Pirlo is too old to run the midfield by himself, and our outside MF is too old to get forward and back against the younger, more athletic teams (such as the Dutch). The Italians desperately need to re-install their 4-4-2, but Donadoni will insist to keep with his more attrative, be completely ill-suited 4-3-3. Here is the line-up that should be employed: Materazzi, Panucci, Zambrotta, Grosso in the back, Pirlo, De Rossi, Perrotta, and Camoranesi in the middle, and Toni and Del Piero up top. Then you can bring in Gattuso and Di Natale late in the game to inject energy, strength, and the defensive presence needed to close out the game. Hats off to the Dutch, who were the most exciting side to watch by far this tournament. Van Nistelrooy should have another strong tournament, but I think the lack of defense will eventually see Holland lose in the semis or possible even the finals.