Italy 2-0 Georgia – All Hail DDR… (World Cup 2010 Qualifiers)

On Wednesday night, as Italy battled Georgia and the sky of Udine radiantly displayed its Azzurri colors, there was a slight touch of giallorosso on the almighty’s paintbrush.

With Andrea Pirlo now wearing nº10 (stupid FIFA rules) and a certain Francesco Totti still keeping his retirement vows, things have been a bit confusing with Azzurri shirt numbers lately. So enter Daniele De Rossi, the man setting the pace for everyone else.

DDR was no nº10 tonight (like he had been during Euro 2008), nor was he a nº6 (despite what the number on his back said). No, he was something in between. In the words of Marcello Lippi, someone like Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard… a true nº8. A number 8 with a double in his feet, just aching to come out…

(From Gazzetta): Another Italian victory: playing a bit better after their (cough… fortunate) 2-1 win in Cyprus the Azzurri defeated Georgia 2-0 (the same margin of victory as in October 2007, in the Euro 2008 qualifiers). Back then, the goals were signed Pirlo and Grosso. This time around, two beautiful goals by Daniele De Rossi, just enough to remain at the top of group B in the South Africa 2010 qualifiers.

INITIAL SPRINT – Italy had a strong start to the match, perhaps eager to make up for their average performance in Cyprus. Or maybe just eager to quickly secure the top of the group, before the playing comfort started to disappear. Antonio Di Natale (Udine’s pride) was certainly on that same wavelength: his 10th minute finish on Toni’s poked pass was just inches wide of post. The goal was however just around the corner, and we would only need to wait a few minutes for it. Cue Daniele De Rossi and his 30m left-foot ripper from outside the box. Awesome shot, and 1-0 Italy.

Taking the lead evidently enabled the Azzurri to get rid of their tension (and nervousness): Pirlo and Aquilani showcased their backheeling ability in quick succession, and Italy really seemed to be having fun on the pitch. Less than a half-hour into the match, La Ola (the wave) broke out in the stands.

SCARE - However, it was too soon to celebrate because Levan Kenia, the fast and persevering Georgian 18 year-old, gobbled up an easy goal in front of Buffon (after an assist from another guy called Levan, Mchedlidze this time aka Palermo’s new on-loan youngster). Italy cooled down their verve a bit, as Lippi made Di Natale and Camoranesi switch places and then asked the same from Aquilani and Pirlo. Georgia – who had moved their wingers back to midfield – tried some timid moves (but with little success) while Italy in the meantime, was showing bits of clumsiness in midfield (Pirlo‘s no side midfielder, no news there, and Aquilani still seems unable to find the “right” position in the Azzurri central line). The score thus remained 1-0 till the half-time break.

SUBSTITUTIONS - At the restart, Lippi decided to bring Angelo Palombo on for Pirlo for the second half, followed shortly after by Alessandro Del Piero for Di Natale. The Azzurri’s creative outlets could not find inspiration however, and the team still struggled to play the ball into open space. Georgia reverted to their “turtle-shell” strategy, something not particularly to the liking of Hector Cuper (“agitated” on the sidelines).

As for the Azzurri, Luca Toni found it (once again) very hard to rid himself of Kaladze’s marking and get to net, all the while Aquilani (considerably improving his performance in the second half), shot a beautiful short-range left kick that barely missed the net. Then Del Piero tried to turn on his “zona” game (outside dribble on the edge of the box and inswinging shot towards the top-right corner), lacking accuracy over power. Lippi made one last change with Vincenzo Iaquinta for Toni (thus completing the Di Natale-Dossena ex & current Udinese players trio) who immediately got a few good shots on target, but found the ready hands of Loria to parry away.

SECOND GOAL - The 2-0 wasn’t materialising, and thus fear began to loom over the stands: the only breakaways were coming from the Georgian side, and Buffon was even called into action on a dangerous through ball. Some spectators even started to boo at this point, but were rapidly silenced as Daniele De Rossi (man-of-the-match tonight… who else?) exploited a good Del Piero assist to send a low ball past the Georgian keeper. 2-0 Italy and the first double in DDR’s Azzurri career. Good enough for another Ola in the stands…


 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
[Match Highlights]
 Georgian Football Federation
GOALSCORERS: 16’, 90’ De Rossi (I).
ITALY (4-3-3): Buffon – Zambrotta, Legrottaglie, F.Cannavaro, Dossena – Pirlo (46’ Palombo), De Rossi, Aquilani – Camoranesi, Toni (70’ Iaquinta), Di Natale (56’ Del Piero). (bench: De Sanctis, Barzagli, Cassetti, Gilardino). Coach: Lippi.
GEORGIA (4-3-3): Loria – Lobjanidze, Salukvadze, Kaladze, Eliava (46’ Kvirkvelia) – Monteshashvili (69’ Odikadze), Khmaladze, Kobiashvili – Kenia, Mchedlidze (55’ Siradze), Iashvili. (bench: Kvaskhvadze, Shashiashvili, Kvakhadze, Alekside). Coach: Cuper.


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Posted in Azzurri, World Cup 2010 |

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