Bulgaria 0-0 Italy: Azzurri With Determination… and Without Goals (World Cup 2010 Qualifiers)

No goals between Bulgaria and Italy in Sofia. Almost emulating the performance of their junior team, the Azzurri could not do better than a 0-0 draw for their Saturday away game, a draw which at the end of today’s 90 minutes seemed to satisfy players from both sides. Not surprising, since the teams spent more time neutralizing each other than actually trying to score goals.

(From KwSport): On paper, the away game to Sofia was one of the toughest of the Azzurri’s calendar, a risky hurdle on the way to South Africa 2010. One of the reasons perhaps why Fabio Cannavaro & friends risked very little tonight, really focusing their attention on containing Dimitar Berbatov (mission accomplished) rather than setting up offensive plays for speedy Pepe and Di Natale. A mental approach mimicked by Bulgarian manager Plamen Makov, who made suffocating the Azzurri midfield and nipping any of their counter-attacks right in the bud his team’s first priority tonight.

Tactically, Lippi proposed his pre-announced 4-3-3 formation, with Marco Amelia and Simone Pepe (at his debut) replacing the injured Buffon and Camoranesi. In midfield, the Azzurri manager’s doubts were cleared with the inclusion of Riccardo Montolivo alongside De Rossi and Gattuso, while Toni quietly sat on the bench to watch Alberto Gilardino take lead of the attack.

The first half of Saturday’s match was a hard-fought battle, dominated by physical plays and heavy tactics. The Bulgarian defensive web in midfield, well-organized by coach Markov, was essentially designed to smother the playmaking verve of De Rossi & Montolivo, thus forcing the Azzurri to use the wings in order to find some penetration. Andrea Dossena was litterally running his a** off down the left wing, but poorly aided by Di Natale (bad night for him) the Liverpool wing-back’s crosses found the home team’s backline always prepared.

In a match like this therefore, it wouldn’t be completely absurd to suggest the only shots on goal would arrive from set-pieces or long-range efforts. Alas, the Bulgarian night at Levski Stadium was cruelly lacking in that department as well, and the first half ended on a bland 0-0 score with 2 shots wide for either side and 0 shots on target.

In the second period, things changed very little. Except for the aforementioned set-pieces and long-range efforts, which finally started to create some (mild) excitement: Georgiev tried his luck for the home team, Pepe imitated him shortly after for the Azzurri (Gilardino almost managing a close-range redirect). We finally arrived to minute 72, when a great pass by Giuseppe Rossi (also at his debut and on for Di Natale) found Alberto Gilardino inside the box, who under the pressure of Ivanov could not adjust his finish.

Before the match ended, Daniele De Rossi tried to copy his match against Georgia and find another scorcher from long-range, narrowly missing the crossbar (half-volley) and the right post (free-kick). Bulgaria on their part, forced Amelia to the only real save of the night through a Chavdar Yankov effort, while Luca Toni (on for Gilardino) continued his why-do-I-even-get-up-in-the-morning moment by earning an avoidable yellow card and getting suspended for Wednesday’s match against Montenegro. 0-0 FT. One away point is never all that bad…


Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) (Bulgarian: Български футболен съюз, БФС)
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
BULGARIA (4-1-4-1): Ivankov – Milanov, Iliev, Tunchev, Wagner (81’ Ivanov) – S.Petrov – Dimitrov, Georgiev, Yankov, M.Petrov (90’ Popov) – Berbatov. (bench: Petkov, Kotev, Manolev, Lazarov, Gargorov). All. Markov.
ITALY (4-3-3): Amelia – Zambrotta, F.Cannavaro, Chiellini, Dossena – Gattuso, De Rossi, Montolivo (68’ Perrotta) – Pepe, Gilardino (73’ Toni), Di Natale (68’ G.Rossi). (bench: De Sanctis, Gamberini, Bonera, Aquilani). Coach: Lippi.


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Posted in Azzurri, World Cup 2010 |

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  • One Response to “Bulgaria 0-0 Italy: Azzurri With Determination… and Without Goals (World Cup 2010 Qualifiers)”

    1. Olga says:

      :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
      Ma che sorpresa!!!
      Complimenti al cugino giornalista !!!