Posts Tagged ‘Cristian Chivu’

Euro 2008 – Italy vs. Romania Preview: Time for the Azzurri to Bounce Back

Friday, June 13th, 2008

DUN-DUN-DUN-DUUUUN, the time has come.

Can you image the notes of Beethoven’s 5th in your head? Here I’ll help you. The choice of music is appropriate I think for Italy, who at 18:00 Central European Time Friday will play for their Euro 2008 future against Romania.

To quote RomaChris’s match preview:


One major tournament game into the soon to be finished Roberto Donadoni Era, we’re already watching the team enter the land of no return: at the absolute worst they have to take a point or else it’s curtains. Lose the game and this will be the worst performance in House of Savoy blue ever. Ever. Much less coming off a World Cup title. Never has an Azzurri team lost the first two games of a major tournament; the last time they lost twice in the group stages was 1966. We may all have short and unpleasant memories of Monday, but this game has potentially historic implications. Safe to say, not a single player on this team wants a part of that infamy. Will it translate? Wait and see.

(…) This squad will have to win for that little thing that they’re so privileged to be able to wear, that “little” logo you see over there to the left. The one adorned with four golden stars, marking four golden teams made of champions. Time to play, coach and compete like they deserve to wear such a historic shirt.

In common Italian vernacular: è l’ora di tirar fuori le palle. It’s “DO or DIE” time.

Pre-Match Statistics

8 years have passed since the first Italy vs. Romania encounter at a European Championship (Euro 2008 Quarter-Finals, June 24, Bruxelles). On that day, the Azzurri won 2-0 (goals by Totti and Inzaghi) to advance to the semi-finals. The remaining 13 other confrontations (4 Euro qualifiers, 2 World Cup qualifiers, 7 friendly matches) see Italy as clear favorites with a total of 10 wins, 2 draws, and only 2 losses. The goal difference in all those matches is 24-10 in favor of the Azzurri.
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Head-to-head: Italy vs. Romania

Played
Wins
Italy
Draws
Wins
Romania
All Venues
14
10
2
2
In Italy
7
6
1
0
In Romania
6
3
1
2
Neutral
1
1
0
0
Competitive Matches
7
5
1
1
Euro Championship
1
1
0
0

Date
Venue
Match
Result
First match
11 Jun 1939
Bucharest, ROU
Romania – Italy
0-1
Biggest win Italy
07 Oct 2000
Milan, ITA
Italy – Romania
3-0
Biggest win Romania
16 Apr 1983
Bucharest, ROU
Romania – Italy
1-0
29 Mar 1989
Sibiu, ROU
Romania – Italy
1-0
Most goals
17 Jun 1972
Bucharest, ROU
Romania – Italy
3-3
05 Jun 1976
Milan, ITA
Italy – Romania
4-2
Last match
16 Nov 2003
Ancona, ITA
Italy – Romania
1-0

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Italy

 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

(From La Gazzetta): ZURICH (Switzerland), 12 June 2008 – Alessandro Del Piero will go to sleep tonight relaxed and pumped up. Tomorrow he’ll be on the pitch as part of the starting eleven AND he’ll wearing the team captain’s armband.

It has really been a while since the Juventus forward had any kind of certainty with the Azzurri national team shirt, but Roberto Donadoni revealed it on Thursday. The Don’s words surprised everyone a little, especially after months of speculation, hints and line-up requests from the press that have almost always gone unanswered. However, the coach went all out Thursday afternoon and even added other names.

I will make three or four changes in regards to the line-up I chose against Netherlands. Ale and Giorgio [Chiellini] will be on the pitch,” said Donadoni. “I have to give those who played the most a break”, especially because Friday will be about facing a motivated team with an optimal line-up. “[Romania are] a technical and strong team that defends very well,” added Donadoni, looking to be ready to tackle the world. His eyes made his willingness to win tomorrow fairly evident, perhaps in order to dedicate the win to his critics. Unlike in Bern it will be critical to remain calm and to think straight. “We have ninety minutes to score. We must be patient, dominate the opponent and pace ourselves because a lot of running will be involved.”

As a good Bergamese, the Don plays his cards close to his heart: if an emotion explosion is to take place, he will do it at the right moment. For now, he just confirmed that three or four changes would take place: “I will make my final choice tomorrow morning,” he added, proceeding to explain that the 3-0 still hurts and because of this, the team is eager to win. According to La Repubblica, the formation “hinted” by the Don’s distribution of blue/yellow pinnies on Thursday, is the following:

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Buffon
Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini,Grosso
Camoranesi, Pirlo, De Rossi, Perrotta
Toni, Del Piero

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Going back to our opponents however, Romania is not just pace & fitness: the Don is also afraid of the team’s technical ability and this is the reason behind his strategy redesign. Starting from Del Piero: “I see Ale much farther back from the front and more to the middle. What do I expect from Ale? Tomorrow everyone will have to give his best.” In other words, ADP will have to provide the passing, ideas and creativity, players like Luca Toni will have to put the ball into the net.

Donadoni concluded that tomorrow, Italy must play with the will to show the rest of the world we are still the champions, even if the fear is setting in. Fear that, as per Donadoni’s words, is no reason to be ashamed. “Fear” he says, “is not always negative. Being afraid is human, otherwise we would all be robots. No one can be absolutely fearless in certain situations, but some of these feelings must be exploited to the best. A “healthy” fear is okay, but we must avoid the kind of fear that puts you in a slump or slaps cuffs on your wrists”.

However, Donadoni doesn’t charge ahead but doesn’t hang back either, showing a side of him never seen before. “My feeling? I see a vibrant, eager and energetic team. But let’s make one thing clear: this is not an absolute guarantee that we will get the 3 points, because I had the same feeling on the eve of the match against the Netherlands. There’s no mathematical certainty.” The only certainty the Azzurri have for tomorrow, is that a loss will mean it’s time to go gome and a draw will force them to starting packing their bags.

Romania

(From La Repubblica): It Italian there is a saying that goes “Il diavolo non è così brutto quanto come lo si dipinge“, meaning “The Devil isn’t as ugly as one describes it”.

Why on Earth are we talking about Satan for an Italy vs. Romania match preview? Well, “Satan-Piturca” is actually one of the nicknames that Romanian manager Victor Piturca has earned during his career, and not because he has a really creepy laugh or walks with a devil’s fork, but because of the way he dresses (usually always completely black). On top of that though, he’s not exactly an easy-going guy either: just ask the likes of Adrian Mutu, Gabriel Tamaş or Bogdan Lobonţ, who have suffered the coach’s wrath a few times over in the past, for their lack of commitment in certain national team matches. “Those who play with this shirt must stay fully concentrated from kick-off to full time” is one of the coach’s favorite mottos.

Despite this tiny bit creepy introduction, Romania isn’t a “phenomenal” team. Not to be understimated certainly, but not “phenomenal”. “Tough to play against” would perhaps describe the Tricolorii better, and the likes of Mutu, Chivu, Contra, and goalkeeprer Lobont are all testament to the fact experience and weight aren’t lacking in this team. Despite not commonly seen in the spotlight, the Romanians’ strongest capacity seems to being able to close down matches in which they are favorites, and cutting down their opponents’ play for when they are underdogs. For Friday’s match in particular, coach Piturca has a special plan in mind to tie down Alex Del Piero. “He is a very dangerous player” says the manager “and we will have a strategy to block him“.

Perhaps the same kind of strategy Romania used against France, unanimously voted as the most ugly Euro 2008 match so far. On that day, Piturca was ready to sacrifice offensive prowess to the benefit of denfensive solidity, switching his usual 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 (much to the detriment of Adrian Mutu’s abilities).

Here’s how Romania played against France:

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Lobont
Contra, Tamas, Goian, Rat
Cocis, Radoi, Chivu
Nicolita, D.Niculae, Mutu

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Speaking of Mutu, the Fiorentina forward didn’t get to Euro 2008 in the best condition, despite an excellent season with La Viola. “He has had a big loss in the family and still has a few salary problems to sort out with Chelsea. He needs to play in order to find his best form“.

Mutu however, will the least of Italy’s problems for Friday’s match. Indeed, the biggest worry for Roberto Donadoni should come from the thick defensive lining exhibited by the Romanian team, who in the Euro qualifiers conceded only 7 goals in 12 matches. Piturca still maintains Italy are clear favorites for the match however. “They are the world champions and thus favorites. It’s normal that a lot is expected from them, but I do not believe they will simply attack with their heads down.”

Inter defender Cristian Chivu (who plays central midfield for his national team) agrees. “Everyone said Romania would rank last in their group, but you’ll see that it will be difficult beating us.” And unlike Italy, Romania have the luxury of being content with a draw. “A draw would suit us well” adds Chivu. “The Italians will be under the most pressure because they must absolutely win Friday’s match.”

Has anyone told Chivu that, due to their inexplicable tendency to make life complicated, Italy plays best with their back against the wall?
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Italy vs. Romania, kick-off time 18:00 CET
“In Donadoni We Trust”

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FORZA AZZURRI

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