Posts Tagged ‘Mauro Camoranesi’

Azzurri Tee Time

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

After a pretty rough week of group stage games (resolved in extremis only on the last matchday), the Italian team was given a day of rest today. Time for Roberto Donadoni, Alessandro Del Piero, and Mauro Camoranesi to practice their swings. :)

Donadoni played in a threesome with goalkeeping coach Ivano Bordon and team physician Andrea Ferretti, while Alessandro Del Piero and Mauro Camoranesi played in another group at Fontana Golf Club, site of the recent Austria Open and just down the road from Italy’s hotel.

Euro 2008 – France vs. Italy Preview: The Grand Final, Take 2

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Franck Ribéry and Luca Toni were right: Tuesday’s match between France and Italy has all the marks of a grand final.

On paper, two of the strongest teams in the footy world. Mutual respect, but also a great history and rivarly extending throughout the years: epic battles lost & won, the most recent of which took place only 2 years ago on the biggest stage that any sporting event could wish for: a FIFA World Cup final!

On that day (July 9, 2006), Italy and France competed with a mathematical certainty: there would be a winner that night, and one of them would be walking away with glory. On Tuesday, the two World Cup finalists will be competing to stay alive. And at the end of the day, there’s a very real possibility both will be walking away in shame. Defeated. But it is something neither of them prefers to think about and frankly, neither do we.

Pre-Match Statistics

Through history, Italy and France played each other only once during European Championship finals, and that is a match many Azzurri fans would rather not remember (July 2, Euro 2000 final in Rotterdam, Netherlands). In total, the two teams have played 35 matches together (5 World Cups, 1 Euro Cup, 2 Euro Cup qualifiers, 2 Olympic games, 24 friendlies, 1 Tournoi de France), with Italy winning 17, tying 10, and losing 8 (74-48 the goal differential).

Note that Italy have not beaten France since June 2, 1978, when the Azzurri were victorious over Les Bleus at Mar del Plata, for the first group stage match of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Since then the two countries played each other 9 times, with France obtaining 5 wins and 4 draws (the most notable of which was the World Cup 2006 final which, for statistical purposes, ended 1-1 after extra time).

Head-to-head France vs. Italy

All Venues
In France
In Italy
Competitive Matches
Euro Championship

First match
15 May 1910
Milan, ITA
Italy – France
Biggest win France
29 Aug 1920
Antwerp, BEL
France – Italy
06 Sep 2006
Paris, FRA
France – Italy
Biggest win Italy
22 Mar 1925
Turin, ITA
Italy – France
Most goals
18 Jan 1920
Milan, ITA
Italy – France
Last match
08 Sep 2007
Milan, ITA
Italy – France



 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

(From La Gazzetta): ZURICH, 16 June 2008 – “The match is tomorrow.” Four words that reveal Roberto Donadoni’s passion. The usually calm Italian manager looks exhausted, almost alone in the midst of the storm. Yes, tomorrow is “the match“, and the Azzurri will play it with one regret: “We won’t be the masters of our own destiny.”

The coach believes in his own heart: and so do all the Azzurri. There is France on one side, and then… another match. And there’s also the future: Donadoni doesn’t want to cut the Azzurri’s horizon short. “No, I haven’t packed my suitcase yet in Baden.” he says. The suitcases are all there and there is always time to pack them. Right now, we are thinking about something else.”

CASSANO? – Unlike the eve of the match against Romania, Donadoni doesn’t want to reveal his line-up. “You want to know if Antonio is playing? This time, I won’t say anything. I’ve pretty much made up my mind on the line-up, but I will give it the final touch tomorrow morning.”

According to La Repubblica, one of the possible solutions to complete the Cassano-Toni pair would be Mauro Camoranesi, one of the players still in need to impress at Euro 2008. “He recuperated just like the others, although those that played longer are also subject to a certain mental fatigue” admitted Donadoni. Kinda like saying the Italo-Argentine could be facing some bench time on Tuesday. The alternative to Camoranesi is Antonio Di Natale, in better physical shape but with lower defensive abilities.

The defensive & covering tasks would be therefore left to the likes of De Rossi, Gattuso, and Ambrosini (currently the midfield trio most likely to start vs. France). Andrea Pirlo would thus be relegated to the bench, in part because of his co-existence problems with De Rossi against Romania. “I will be on the field tomorrow” said however Pirlo on Monday, very convincingly. As for the defense, there is little doubt that the same back four we saw against Romania (Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini and Grosso) will all get a start vs. France also.


Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso
Gattuso, De Rossi, Ambrosini
Cassano, Toni, Di Natale


As for Donadoni, the Italian manager is at a crossroads: in or out? Dreaming of Vienna, the Prater and the Quarter-finals, the Don tries to put his feelings into words. “What can I tell you? That our burden is as big as the will to win. It’s a nice match to play and everyone would like to play it.” The coach has some precise convictions: “The winner tomorrow will be whoever thinks more about their own match.” He has given the players a brief but clear message: “We shall not focus on whatever doesn’t concern us… France should be the only thing on our minds.”

THE FINAL – The Netherlands are another reality, one hour away by car. That’s where the fate of three national teams will be decided. Romania, Italy or France? Donadoni looks straight ahead and reiterates: “We are ready, we know what we are playing for: tomorrow we will give everything we have, body and soul.” Almost like another final.

RISK- For the Azzurri to play to the best of their abilities, Donadoni will need to ignite the flame of passion in his players. Rational plays, but also some craziness & creativity coupled with a little bit of spunk: the Cassano solution. The Don is quiet about it: “You will see tomorrow. I am not saying anything.” But then, he opens a small window to deductions: “We have played with three strikers before, in other circumstances. I think I have always selected a balanced team.” Undeniable, but what about France? The coach hands it in: “I think these are matches where it’s necessary to take just a few extra chances.”


(From La Repubblica): Rome is crying about the Azzurri, but Paris isn’t laughing about Les Bleus either. Roberto Donadoni and Raymond Domenech have, believe it or not, many things in common as they approach the France vs. Italy match. Both managers will lose their jobs if their team is eliminated, both have made certain tactical choices which have been strongly criticized by the press, and both have been struggling with key injuries within their team (Italy have Fabio Cannavaro, France have Patrick Vieira).

However, the mood of Chatel Saint Denis (France’s training facility) is probably even more sombre than that of Casa Azzurri right now. The French press did not see France’s 0-0 draw vs. Romania with a kind eye, but they went absolutely ballistic after Les Bleus got steamrolled by Netherlands on matchday 2. In particular, Domenech’s choices to leave Karim Benzema out and “Granpa” Lilian Thuram (age 36 and a half) in were heavily criticized in the hexagon. The 21 year-old Lyon striker is seen by many as a rising star of the French team, but was left out in favor of a 4-2-3-1 formation including Govou, Malouda, and Ribéry in support of Henry. With his team down by two goals, the French coach still preferred to leave Benzema out, choosing the likes of Bafétimbi Gomis and Nicolas Anelka instead.

As for France’s 36 year-old captain, French sports newspaper L’Équipe simply defined his performance as “worrisome“. Some even postulated the old Parma and Juve defender could be left out of the anti-Italy line-up, an hypothesis which however seems unlikely, given the knock picked up by the other starting center-back William Gallas. Thuram himself, although acknowledging his poor performance vs. Holland, declared to be sure of playing against the Azzurri. “This isn’t the first national team match in which I played badly, you just can’t remain among the very best for too many years” Thuram said. “However, our performance against Netherlands will be a bad memory, and nothing more.” The Barcelona center-back added he wants to be part of the eleven vs. Italy at all costs, stating that “The contrary would be very serious“.

According to L’Équipe, this is the expected formation for Tuesday:


Clerc (or Sagnol), Gallas, Thuram (or Abidal), Evra
Govou, Makelele (or L.Diarra), Toulalan, Ribéry
Henry, Benzema


Thus despite Thuram’s convictions, it would not be surprising to see all of Sagnol, Thuram, Makelele and Malouda be relegated to the bench on Tuesday, as the French coach revolutionizes his back-line. Raymond Domenech tested several alternative formations during Monday’s training at Chatel Saint Denis, one of which being Franck Ribéry in a left-winger role (a position he is accustomed to with Bayern). In turn, Sydney Govou would take Ribéry’s place on the right, and the two wingers would then work to support lone striking pair Henry-Benzema.

But going back to Domenech, another source of criticism for the French coach was his decision to keep Patrick Vieira in the roster, despite the midfielder’s injury struggle. Many would have preferred to see talented ex-Arsenal youngster Mathieu Flamini, who was ready for action and called up as a precautionary measure, but was then sent home in the hopes of seeing Vieira get better (something which at this point, will probably not take place).

In other words, tension and problems aren’t what’s lacking in the French roster, but Bayern midfielder Franck Ribery (one of those who created so many problems to the Italian defense back in 2006) swears France is ready to turn the page. “We are feeling much better now compared, to the immediate moments after the loss vs. Netherlands. We suffered a very heavy loss despite playing a good match, and we all gathered together to talk about it. To clarify that our Euro 2008 adventure is not over since we still have a small chance of making it to the next round. We will play our chances to the end, we must believe in it, otherwise there’s no point in playing“.


France vs. Italy, kick-off time 20:45 CET




Video of the Day: Azzurri Soccer-Tennis (Cassano-Gattuso-Pirlo vs. Ambrosini-Camoranesi-De Rossi)

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Check out Gattuso at the end… he really doesn’t like to lose these it seems… :)

Italy 3-1 Belgium (Internat’l Friendly): Di Natale’s A-Rockin’, Italy’s A-Poppin’

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Italy FA (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio)KBVB/URBSFA: Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond, Union Royale Belge des Societes de Football Association

Ya, corny title but it summarizes the Azzurri’s current match form pretty well. Ok ok Belgium aren’t exactly living up to their Diables Rouges title lately, and the RAI commentators themselves repeatedly defined them as nothing more than a “sparring partner” for Italy. Still, there’s something very reassuring about the way Donadoni’s team handled the first 60 minutes of Friday’s friendly: less than two weeks before their Euro 2008 debut Cannavaro’s still rock-solid, Di Natale’s in great form, Del Piero and Cassano have plenty to say, and the Azzurri’s 4-3-3 formation is a well-oiled machine.

With 10 days left till the opening match vs. Holland, Friday’s test was very important for Roberto Donadoni, and despite all the rumours surrounding Del Piero’s & Cassano’s simultaneous utilization, the Don stuck to his trademarked and tested 4-3-3 formation, with Luca Toni up front surrounded by Antonio Di Natale and Mauro Camoranesi on the wings. At the end of the day and based on Italy’s performance Friday, no choice could have been more spot on. Compared to pre-match expectations however, two changes saw the day in the Azzurri line-up: Christian Panucci was given a start over Fabio Grosso as right-back (thus moving Zambrotta on the left), while Alberto Aquilani occupied the central midfield position alongside Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso (in-form Daniele De Rossi and usual starter Massimo Ambrosini were left on the bench). Meanwhile, the confirmation of Andrea Barzagli alongside Fabio Cannavaro should serve as almost-conclusive evidence that Marco Materazzi lost his starting role with the Azzurri.

Italy’s start of the match was, without exaggeration, thundering. Gattuso (yes, Gattuso!) had the first shot on target (deflected), shortly followed by Panucci, which eventually lead to the 9th minute opener by Antonio Di Natale. The Udinese striker summoned his best technical abilities by converting a pinpoint cross from the right wing, and slamming it home past Stijn Stijnen with a rotating short-range volley. The provider? Andrea Pirlo, who else? 1-0 Italy.

Following their goal, the Azzurri continued to have fun. Their ball possession, energy, passing game were top-notch and far exceeded the resistance provided by their Belgian counterparts. Luca Toni was doing what Toni does best, holding the ball, laying it up for his teammates, or attempting to take on the two center-backs himself (often succeeding, but being however unable to get a good shot in), all the while the constant overlaps of Panucci and Camoranesi on the right wing were creating havoc in the Belgian defense. Only Aquilani was being perhaps a bit too casual in his ball distribution, giving up the ball a couple of times and being duly reprimanded by Donadoni on the occasion. The Roma midfielder more than compensated for it however, by providing Di Natale with the one-touch assist for the second goal of the game, a low finish into the bottom-right corner that left Stijnen no chance. 2-0 Italy at the break, but not before Toni headed a Panucci cross narrowly over the bar.

In the second half, time for some Azzurri changes: Cannavaro, Panucci and Di Natale out, Chiellini, Grosso, and Del Piero in. Inspired substitutions these were, in particular regarding the latter: immediately receiving two aerial through balls by Pirlo, the Juventus striker delayed play keeping his marker occupied, then dished out a delicate no-look pass towards the right for Mauro Camoranesi. The Italo-Argentine hit a low ball between the keeper’s legs and increased the Azzurri’s goaltotal to three. 3-0 Italy = magnifico! (or in the words of Donadoni: “Perfetto!”).

Eventually around the hour mark, there was time for Antonio Cassano as well. Replacing Camoranesi, the remaining 30 minutes showcased exactly what the Italian press had so eagerly anticipated the previous week: the concurrent utilization of Del Piero, Toni and Cassano. In particular, the utilization of the Juve captain as a second striker (not as a left winger), just as the doctor ordered for maximum efficiency. During this time however, while the Azzurri’s energy-level suffered no drop in performance, their cohesion certainly did. Far from the thoroughly play-tested and over-rehearsed 4-3-3 formation, Italy’s free-flowing passing began to suffer, and the fact the Belgian defenders were getting a little too physical for general taste (on Cassano in particular) certainly didn’t help.

Eventually, the Don also brought on Marco Borriello in place of Toni (undoubtedly in order to assess the player’s level of form). Well, the early verdict on the ex-Genoa (now AC Milan) striker still raises some eyebrows, as Borriello incredibly missed an open net chance served to him on a platter by Zambrotta. Stagefright? Anyways, there weren’t many other scoring opportunities left in this game, save for a Zambrotta left-footer (parried by Stijnen) and Cassano header over the bar (set up by Del Piero). Belgium came close to goal with Wesley Sonck (header wide), then with… Wesley Sonck (parried by Buffon), and eventually found their goal through… Wesley Sonck (headed corner in the 92nd). 3-1.

The Club Brugge striker had indeed the most active of his team in trying to find the back of the net, although on the occasion there was perhaps some excessive laxness in the Azzurri’s man-marking. Since Italy were already up by 3, we’re ready to forgive them missing out on the clean sheet, but vacation’s over guys: next week’s the real deal!


 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio ITALY-BELGIUM
[Match Highlights]
Belgium FA (KBVB/URBSFA: Koninklijke Belgische Voetbalbond, Union Royale Belge des Societes de Football Association)
GOALSCORERS: 9’, 41’ Di Natale (I), 49’ Camoranesi (I), 92’ Sonck (B)
ITALY (4-3-3): Buffon – Panucci (46’ Grosso), F.Cannavaro (46’ Chiellini), Barzagli, Zambrotta – Gattuso, Pirlo, Aquilani (75’ Ambrosini) – Camoranesi (61’ Cassano), Toni (75’ Borriello), Di Natale (46’ Del Piero). (bench: Amelia, De Sanctis, Materazzi, De Rossi, Perrotta, Quagliarella). Coach: Donadoni.
BELGIUM (4-3-1-2): Stijnen – Hoefkens (46’ Swerts), Kompany, Vertonghen, Pocognoli – Witsei (71’ Gillet), Simons, Mudingayi (84’ Huysgens) – Defour (58’ Mirallas) – Fellaini, Dembele (58’ Sonck). (bench: Renard, De Roover, De Man, Mulemo). Coach: Vandereycken.


Italy’s Euro 2008 Roster – 23 Players, Aye to Cassano & Del Piero, Nay to Montolivo

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

In accordance to the UEFA-imposed May 28 deadline, Italian coach Roberto Donadoni has made his final roster selection for Euro 2008: the 23 players who will representing the Azzurri this Summer have been picked and as many expected, Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was the player discarded from the manager’s Pre-selection list.

I was expecting it, I’m not too disappointed” said Montolivo. “The coach told me I had been excluded from the roster, and we’ll discuss the possibility of me staying among the group until Friday, and perhaps participating in the friendly vs. Belgium in Florence“. Donadoni himself however revealed, later in the day, that Montolivo would be leaving Coverciano. “The choice has been made yesterday evening. I gave [Montolivo] the choice of remaining with us, and he decided to leave tonight“.

It’s worth mentioning that Montolivo was, until the last minute, in serious contention with Quagliarella. It isn’t a coincidence that in the official team picture, both Montolivo and Quagliarella appear on the far ends of the second and bottom rows respectively (i.e. in easy “position” to be cut out). The same situation had taken place for Euro 2000 and Giuseppe Pancaro, who was then discarded at the last minute by then-coach Dino Zoff.

Also, many (myself included) had expected the Don to make his final choice between Montolivo and Aquilani (who was struggling with form & playing time in the last part of the season), but I guess Donadoni was reassured by the performances of the Roma player during practice, and reverted his final choice to Montolivo/Quagliarella (the Udinese striker also had a bleak end of the season, compared to his usual abilities).

In addition, the final shirt numbers have been submitted to UEFA. De Rossi has inherited Totti’s nº10, Del Piero will be keeping nº7, and Cassano wil take nº18 (formerly Pippo Inzaghi’s).

Here’s the full list with numbers:

Number Goalkeepers: Club:
Nº14 Marco Amelia Livorno
Nº1 Gianluigi Buffon Juventus
Nº17 Morgan De Sanctis Sevilla
Nº6 Andrea Barzagli Palermo
Nº5 Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid
Nº4 Giorgio Chiellini Juventus
Nº3 Fabio Grosso Lyon
Nº23 Marco Materazzi Inter
Nº2 Christian Panucci Roma
Nº19 Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona
Nº13 Massimo Ambrosini Milan
Nº22 Alberto Aquilani Roma
Nº16 Mauro Camoranesi Juventus
Nº10 Daniele De Rossi Roma
Nº8 Gennaro Gattuso Milan
Nº20 Simone Perrotta Roma
Nº21 Andrea Pirlo Milan
Nº12 Marco Borriello Genoa
Nº18 Antonio Cassano Sampdoria
Nº7 Alessandro Del Piero Juventus
Nº11 Antonio Di Natale Udinese
Nº15 Fabio Quagliarella Udinese
Nº9 Luca Toni Bayern Munich