Posts Tagged ‘Daniele De Rossi’

Euro 2008 – Spain 0-0 Italy, Azzurri Out on Penalty-Kicks… Again

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Spain 0-0 Italy, and then off to penalty kicks. A lottery that historically never agreed too much with the Azzurri, although it seemed as if the World Cup 2006 final vs. France had finally broken that taboo. I guess not. Italy fans just have to hope the curse isn’t back.

Much like anticipated in the days preceding the match, this was hard-fought and tightly-contested battle. The Spanish working their way with their short passing tactics, attempting to penetrate a well-organized (yes, you have read correctly!) Italian defense lead by Christian Panucci and Giorgio Chiellini, while on the other end the creativity of Antonio Cassano and lay-up work of Luca Toni tried to hit Spain on counter-attacks. Carlos Marchena and Carles Puyol were however keeping close guard as well and at the end of the day, there weren’t many real chances to make the highlights reel. Mauro Camoranesi had a good rotating strike inside the box (saved by Casillas) and there was a long-range blast by Marcos Senna (parried, then fumbled by Buffon onto the post). Other than that, a lot of ball possession and many shots wide for Spain.

Then came penalty kicks, and Iker Casillas stepped up to the plate by saving Daniele De Rossi’s and Antonio Di Natale’s efforts. Italy are going home.

(From Gazzetta): The adventure is over. Spain beat Italy 4-2 in at penalties and sent them packing, all the while erasing the magic of Berlin on a hot Vienna night. After a goalless 120 minutes, Buffon managed to stop Guiza‘s effort but De Rossi and Di Natale both missed their shots (great saves by Casillas) so it is time to turn the page. The world champions are out of Euro 2008.

Tactically, Italy manager Roberto Donadoni started with the same system he used in the match vs. France (4-3-1-2), albeit with some forced changes in midfield. The absence of Pirlo and Gattuso (the former especially) wasn’t exactly a gift from the heavens, so the Don had the cumbersome task to find a new creative outlet for the Azzurri. In this case, the mission fell on Roma’s Alberto Aquilani, with Daniele De Rossi and Massimo Ambrosini in supoprt. At the same time, Donadoni kept his faith in attacking midfielder Simone Perrotta, positioned behind strikers Toni and Cassano. On the other end, Luis Aragonés surprisingly switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with however the usual 4-player midfield (Andrés Iniesta on the right and Marcos Senna just behind the attacking line).

The Azzurri started the match in attacking mode, with good aggression & pressing ability, but Spain immediately put on the brake. Contrary to their habits, La Furia Roja were playing wide and at low speed, but seemingly in better control of the game. In minute 9 David Silva moved to the center and armed a good shot, but the deflection was blocked by Buffon without major effort. Nothing special, but proof that Spain was controlling play. Meanwhile, Sampdoria’s Antonio Cassano was Italy’s most inspired player, but with lack of support and constant double marking by the Spanish defense, Talentino was having a tough time creating anything substantial.

Minute 18, Fernando Torres time: entering the box from the left and receiving the ball from Iniesta, the Liverpool striker’s effort was too high. Something that should have sent a signal to Italy, because on that side the Spanish were roaming free: bogged down by responsibility, Alberto Aquilani was having a tough time containing the Spanish midfielders and thus in turn, was fairly absent from the Azzurri’s counter-attack plays. Then, on minute 19 it was finally Italy’s turn: a good Ambrosini cross from the left found Simone Perrotta in the box but his diagonal header lacked power, no problem for Casillas. Back to the other end, Spain obtained a good free-kick but David Villa’s 25th minute effort found Gigi Buffon ready to catch the ball on the ground.

Italy seemed to come out of their cage sporadically, but without a real playmaker (Simone Perrotta is no Francesco Totti) the passing (and in particular, the penetration) left a lot to be desired. Spain was doing a lot better and in the 32nd minute Silva challenged Buffon once again, but it was Cassano who finally produced some his magic, executing a perfect cross for Luca Toni inside the box. The Bayern giant however could not connect with the ball, resulting in a missed opportunity for Italy.

In the second half, David Silva continued to put his mark on the game (the first half had ended with one of his shots just narrowly wide of Buffon’s post), but fortunately for Italy there was a certain Giorgio Chiellini playing center-back. The young Juve players was doing overtime, litterally playing Cannavaro circa-2006 and blocking down every single dribbling attempt by the Spaniards inside the Azzurri box. Italy however, were still struggling in midfield where De Rossi and Ambrosini were being forced to work extra hard, thus reducing the number of playable balls down the wings for Zambrotta and Grosso.

In minute 58, time for Mauro Camoranesi to make his appearance (in for Perrotta), and not a minute too soon (the team desperately needing some extra creativity). Just 3 minutes after his entrance, the Italo-Argentine exploited a Toni lay-up and came very close to scoring, but some outstanding goalkeeping by Iker Casillas saved Spain’s clean sheet. Aragonés made some substitutions of his own (Xavi & Iniesta replaced by Fabregas & Cazorla) thus strengthening his ball-possession midfield even more.

In minute 29, Antonio Di Natale came on for Cassano but Spain were in command again. In minute 35 a powerful free-kick by Marco Senna was punched clear by Buffon, and just a minute later another shot by the Spanish midfielder was fumbled onto the post by the Italian goalkeeper. A close shave for Italy. The Azzurri tried to hit back with Luca Toni, but the ex-Fiorentina striker was still struggling to enter the match completely (and actually ended up robbing Fabio Grosso of a big scoring opportunity, on a Di Natale cross). Before the full-time (90 minutes) whistle, Daniel Guiza came on for Torres and eventually managed to find the net, but the play had been stopped for handball. Then, Zambrotta saved Italy by blocking Villa inside the box in minute 93.

Extra time was immediately exciting: in the third minute Villa flashed a shot wide and two minutes later, Italy came close to scoring on two occasions. First Marchena intercepted a great Grosso pass to Toni, then a powerful header below the bar by Di Natale was tipped over by Casillas. Italy were kicking themselves because they were having the best chances, even though both teams were now purely relying on instinct and passion. Alessandro Del Piero came on for Aquilani in minute 108 (the Don probably anticipating penalty kicks), while the Spanish continued to try: Buffon saved a Villa shot and in the final minute Cazorla dragged a mid-range effort wide. Time for penalties and this time, Spain did not fail.


Real Federación Española de Fútbol SPAIN-ITALY
0-0 (4-2 p.s.o.)
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
Villa (S) goal, Grosso (I) goal, Cazorla (S) goal, De Rossi (I) saved, Senna (S) goal, Camoranesi (I) goal, Guiza (S) saved, Di Natale (I) Saved, Fabregas (S) goal.
SPAIN (4-4-2): Casillas – Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila – Iniesta (59’ Cazorla), Senna, Xavi (59’ Fàbregas), Silva – Villa, F.Torres (85’ Guiza). (bench: Reina, Palop, Albiol, Navarro, Arbeloa, Juanito, Xabi Alonso, De la Red, Sergio Garcia). Coach: Aragones.
ITALY (4-3-1-2): Buffon – Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso – Aquilani (108’ Del Piero), De Rossi, Ambrosini – Perrotta (58’ Camoranesi) – Toni, Cassano (74’ Di Natale). (bench: Amelia, De Sanctis, Gamberini, Materazzi, Borriello, Quagliarella). Coach: Donadoni.


Spain 2-4 Italy aet – MyVideo

Azzurri Videos of the Day: De Rossi Juggling, Buffon Goalkeeping, Del Piero & Aquilani One-on-One, and Cassano… Getting a Manicure

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Yup, you’ve read that right. Spain vs. Italy is in two days, and everyone prepares differently at “Casa Azzurri”. Maybe Talentino has a “Hand of God” prepared for Sunday and wants the picture to look good…

Daniele De Rossi juggling:


Gigi Buffon Goalkeeping drills:


Alessandro Del Piero vs. Alberto Aquilani:
(ADP clearly wins by the way)


Antonio Cassano cleaning his fingernails, while everyone else is running their ass off on the field.
And yes… once again… he’s in his underwear, can you believe it?

Ok in his defense half the team seemed to be taking a break (he sits next to Pirlo and De Rossi at the end of the vid). That’s still no reason to show us your undies Antonio!! :evil:

Later on, Cassano proceeded to stick his finger into Gennaro Gattuso’s mouth, after which Ringhio somehow blamed Daniele De Rossi for it. :] With these two, I’m sure that fighting boredom is never a lost battle for the Azzurri.

France vs. Italy in 30 Pictures

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Since I’m in an “uploading-pictures” kind of mood, here are selected snapshots of Euro 2008′s France vs. Italy match two days ago. Emphasis on “selected” (i.e. by me, because I thought they were funny and because I just can).

Also, since every self-respecting picture should include a caption, I have provided two for each. By hovering over the picture, the real (serious/boring) caption (as well as any photo credits) will pop up. Below the picture, a funnier (I hope) version of the same caption by me.

Note that with regards to the match timeline, pictures are in no particular chronological order.


Euro 2008: France 0-2 Italy – Azzurri Step Out of the Grave and into the Quarter-Finals

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

France 0-2 Italy. Ladies & gentlemen, this is how you mix a “Blue Lagoon”: 1 oz Vodka (Pirlo), 1 oz Blue Curaçao (De Rossi), cherry (Buffon’s save on Benzema), 1 part Lemonade. Don’t have any lemonade? We’ll settle for some Oranje zest (Huntelaar and Van Persie). The Azzurri’s Euro 2008 adventure continues to the Quarter-Finals. With rage. That of Andrea Pirlo, master sniper from the spot, and Daniele De Rossi, serving a thundering set-piece drive into the net.

It would be hasty to say “the World Champions are back”, but they’re on the right track. Today, the team looked in better shape, more motivated, more concentrated. And luck, the factor the Azzurri were so cruelly lacking until now, finally lent a helping hand to Roberto Donadoni & Co. France’s match went from bad (Franck Ribery’s injury in the 10th) to worse (Eric Abidal’s foul on Luca Toni inside the box, and resulting red card) in less than 15 minutes, and Thierry Henry’s deflection on Daniele De Rossi’s 62nd-minute free-kick was just the ultimate insult for Raymond Domenech, who will undoubtedly have to step down following his team’s elimination.

Not Roberto Donadoni. The Italian coach lives to fight another day with the Azzurri, who will now be facing Spain in the Euro 2008 Quarter-Finals. With still some doubts to erase (Who will replace the suspended Pirlo and Gattuso? When will Luca Toni finally release his goalscoring power?) but with a significant morale booster. Beating France will always do that to ya…

Tactically, Italian coach Roberto Donadoni decided to make two changes for today’s match: full confidence in Gennaro Gattuso and Antonio Cassano. Italy’s 4-3-2-1 formation looked a lot like AC Milan’s Xmas tree formation, with Talentino and Simone Perrotta providing support behind Luca Toni. In midfield, except for Daniele De Rossi this was vintage Rossoneri set-up: Gattuso and Pirlo providing the core of play for the Azzurri (the former to win the ball back, the latter to distribute it forward). As for the back line, no doubts there: Zambrotta and Grosso on the wings, Panucci & Chiellini in the middle.

On the other end, France’s Raymond Domenech made a bold move by leaving veteran center-back (and captain) Lilian Thuram on the bench. Some may say Thuram’s past his expiration date, but his replacement today (Eric Abidal) would later prove playing center-back’s not his thing. Other changes made by Les Bleus included François Clerc replacing Sagnol as right-back and Karim Benzema subbing in for Florent Malouda.

France started the match with rage. Concentrated. Motivated. The Azzurri weren’t inferior to the task. Italy’s passing experts (Pirlo, Cassano, Zambrotta, Grosso) immediately got to work, and it took them only 4 minutes to set up Luca Toni in the clear (after a missed touch by Abidal), precisely through a deep pass of the Lyon wing-back. LucaBomber however shot wide, adding to his unfortunate series of missed chances at Euro 2008 (a list which would only get longer as the match progressed).

In minute 8, the first turning point of match: Franck Ribery went down while trying to challenge Zambrotta off the ball (getting entangled in the Italian wing-back’s legs). Knee injury and game over for Franck, enter Samir Nasri. 30% of France’s penetration power had just been stretchered off, something which the Azzurri certainly weren’t lacking today. Christian Panucci tried to put his golden noggin to work (minute 11), finding only Makelele to deny him the joy of his second at Euro 2008. 10 minutes later a good service by Pirlo was narrowly missed by Perrotta inside the box. The Azzurri were fighting.

In minute 25, the second (and decisive) turning point: a great ball by Pirlo found Luca Toni through on goal inside the box. Luca hooked the ball and was ready for the finish, until Eric Abidal upended him from behind sending the Bayern giant flying. Penalty and red card for the Barça full-back, every France fan regretting Thuram. From the spot Andrea Pirlo made no mistakes, and sent it flying into the top left corner. 1-0 Italy.

Counter-measures for Domenech had to include patching up the gaping defensive hole, so Samir Nasri promptly left his place (his matching lasting only 15 minutes) to Jean-Alain Boumsong. That effectively left Henry and Benzema rather lonely up front, with Sydney Govou as the only real solution of passing support. Not enough. The Azzurri were just having a field day meanwhile: in minute 27, Daniele De Rossi grazed the crossbar, one minute later a Cassano cross from the right found Toni inside the box, connecting with a stylish heel/bicyle flick (not sure what it was) narrowly wide of the post. Then once again Toni (exploiting a Pirlo pass) was through on goal, and once again… missed the target. Not Luca’s day obviously.

France reacted with French pride, keeping the Italian defense on their toes. A good run by Thierry Henry sent the Barça man through on the right, but his diagonal shot was inches wide of Buffon’s left post. A warning for Giorgio Chiellini, his marker on the occasion. Meanwhile, De Rossi and Gattuso were operating as the “Azzurri lions of midfield”, the latter living up to his “Ringhio” pitbull reputation and the Roma man acting almost as an added stopper (with the occasional runs forward). On one of these runs, Italy obtained a good free-kick on the edge of the box, which Fabio Grosso carefully aimed at the bottom-left corner of Gregory Coupet. France’s keeper got a hand to it, deflecting the shot onto the post. After 45 minutes, France 0-1 Italy and Romania 0-0 Netherlands: the Azzurri had their ticket to the Quarter-finals, but anything could change.

In the second half, France was back with a vengeance: first Karim Benzema exploited a good right-wing cross and connected with a slamming a howitzer wide, then Thierry Henry gave shivers to Azzurri supporters with a low shot to the ground (easily saved by Buffon). Italy was suffering in midfield (overpowered by the physical presence of Makelele and Govou) and fear was slowly re-surfacing. Time for some changes: out Andrea Pirlo (accumulating fatigue over the past 3 games), enter Massimo Ambrosini (another defensive midfielder).

Then suddenly in minute 56, some more good news arrived for the Azzurri: Netherlands had just opened the score vs. Romania through Klaas-Jan Huntelaar! Even better news would arrive just 5 minutes later, as Daniele De Rossi went for power on a Cassano-obtained free-kick, finding Henry’s boot on the way to goal. Fooled by his teammate’s deflection, Coupet was sent the wrong way, powerless. 2-0 Italy!

Cue some more changes for Donadoni: out Perrotta, enter Mauro Camoranesi. Domenech replied with Nicolas Anelka on for Govou. Not much of a change for France, who were more or less keeping afloat thanks to the creativity of Karim Benzema. His curling right-footed effort in minute 73 was destined for the top corner, but Gigi Buffon once again proved why he is the best keeper around. Then came the news of Holland’s 2-0 goal, and everyone wearing Azzurro in Zurich went nuts.

Unpack your bags guys, we are staying in Vienna!



 Fédération Française de Football FRANCE-ITALY
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 25’ pen. Pirlo (I), 62’ De Rossi (I)
FRANCE (4-4-2): Coupet – Clerc, Gallas, Abidal, Evra – Govou (66’ Anelka), Toulalan, Makelele, Ribery (10’ Nasri, 26’ Boumsong) – Benzema, Henry. (bench: Mandanda, Frey, Malouda, Vieira, Thuram, Squillaci, Sagnol, A.Diarra, Gomis). Coach: Domenech.
ITALY (4-3-2-1): Buffon – Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso – Gattuso (82’ Aquilani), De Rossi, Pirlo (55’ Ambrosini) – Cassano, Perrotta (64’ Camoranesi) – Toni. (bench: Amelia, De Sanctis, Gamberini, Barzagli, Materazzi, Quagliarella, Del Piero, Di Natale, Borriello). Coach: Donadoni


France 0-2 Italy – MyVideo

Waiting for Romania… Azzurri Changes on the Horizon

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

(From La Repubblica): From “Italia-Milan” to “Italia-Roma + ADP” seems the most likely change Azzurri coach Roberto Donadoni will make, as Italy step onto the Letzigrund stadium of Zurich for the team’s (already decisive) match vs. Romania. Indeed, the insertion of Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero straight from the start seems almost a given for Friday, and could be coupled with 3 other new faces in the names of Giorgio Chiellini, Fabio Grosso, and Simone Perrotta/Alberto Aquilani.

Only 9 days have passed since Italy’s arrival in Austria and their first appearance at “Casa Azzurri” (the team’s traning ground facility at Südstad Stadion, Maria Enzersdorf). On that day the team was greeted by over 7,000 screaming fans as the Azzurri took part in their first and only practice session open to the public. Since that day however, it almost seems as if an eternity has gone by. When the team returned from their “Black Monday” match vs. the Netherlands, the World Champions found themselves rather lonely: only a few dozen people (crew, sponsor spokespersons and such) were there to provide some encouragement. Of course, the secrecy imposed around the training ground by the Azzurri staff doesn’t help to gather support (this morning, the press could witness only 15 minutes of the team’s practice session). But really, who can blame Roberto Donadoni for wanting to keep his squad isolated and fully concentrated over the next few days, as Italy prepare to bounce back from their shocking defeat vs. Holland.

The Don gathered his troops for one full hour on Wednesday morning, to further analyze want went wrong against the Oranje on Monday. The Azzurri’s overly defensive & cautious attitude while not in possession, and the resulting increase of the gap between Toni & colleagues were in the first order of business. Then, Fabio Cannavaro and Alex Del Piero underlined the importance of keeping a tight-knit group. “It is very important” they said, “not to restrict the responsibility of our loss to a few single individuals” (namely in this case Materazzi, Barzagli, and a few others). The key image to take away from the team’s morning session is that from now on, Italy’s Euro 2008 isn’t a group stage tournament anymore: the game vs. Romania will be played like a “Round of 32″ match and in case of a victory, France will become their “Round of 16″ opponent. In other words Starting from now, Italy must keep on winning. Period.

In order to achieve that, Donadoni will not hesitate at re-shuffling some key elements of his starting line-up, especially in order to facilitate recuperation from fatigue. There are two options available to the Italian coach: adapt the same tactics used in the second half vs. Netherlands (3 back midfielders, a trequartista -Camoranesi/Cassano- and two strikers -Toni & Del Piero), or copy the same formation as AS Roma (2 defensive midfielders, 3 offensive playmakers, and one striker). In either case, at least 4 or 5 players will change compared to the match vs. Holland.

To make a historical parallel: Roberto Donadoni was part of Italy’s roster (as a player) when coach Arrigo Sacchi switched no less than 5 starters between the first match (won) vs. Russia and the second match (lost) vs. Czech Republic at Euro 1996. That re-shuffling gamble cost the Azzurri their elimination from the tournament (the last match vs. Germany ended 0-0) but back then, motivations were completely different. This time unlike 1996 (where the objective was to give the starters a rest), Italy must change in order to WIN.

In the possible 4-2-3-1 formation for Friday, newcomers should include Giorgio Chiellini in the center (for Materazzi, who on top of his poor form is also struggling with a light calf strain) and Fabio Grosso on the left (resulting in the shifting of Gianluca Zambrotta to the right wing). Partnering Keyser Giorgio as central back should be either Andrea Barzagli or Christian Panucci (with the latter currently a clear favorite).

In midfield, the introduction of Daniele De Rossi is 99.9% certain, and it is very likely only one of the 3 Rossoneri (Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini) will remain to complete the midfield trio (Aquilani is also waiting for an opportunity). On the out wings, Mauro Camoranesi and Alessandro Del Piero should provide the creative outlet, while Simone Perrotta could occupy the space behind striker Luca Toni (Antonio Cassano could serve as a wild card, replacing either Del Piero or Camoranesi).

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

Alternatively, a 4-3-1-2 formation could see Mauro Camoranesi operate behind the two strikers ADP & Toni.

Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso
Ambrosini, Pirlo, De Rossi
Toni, Del Piero

Either way, it is now “do or die” time for Italy. The Azzurri will transfer from Vienna to Zurich on Thursday morning, and have their first practice at Letzigrund stadium at 18:00 CET. On Friday at the same time, the team will play their decisive match vs. Romania: at the end of those 90 minutes Italy will know if their Euro 2008 adventure continues.