Even Football Italia thinks they didnt deserve it:
Opinion: Thanks for nothing
Two years ago Italy’s World Cup exit was blamed on portly Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno. This time the Azzurri are questioning the convenient 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark. Not only does this Italian team not know how to win, they don’t know how to lose either.
Suspicions will undoubtedly remain over what exactly happened in the that game between the two Scandinavian cousins. But let us not forget the fact that the Azzurri gave them the chance to draw 2-2 in the first place.
Italy jeopardised their qualification in game one against Denmark after one of their most uninspiring performances under Giovanni Trapattoni – and that is saying something. To add insult to injury Francesco Totti, the player set to lead Italy to glory, got himself rightly suspended for spitting in the face of an opponent.
Their second tie was there to be won but after dominating for 60 minutes against Sweden, Trap’s defensive substitutions led to what was an inevitable equaliser after the Italians had missed so many chances.
The lack of potency in front of goal was again witnessed last night, when it took an injury time strike from Antonio Cassano to ensure the three points. Yes, Italy didn’t lose a game. Yes, Italy finished on the same number of points as Sweden and Denmark but so what? Trap supposedly had the quality to win the tournament yet they couldn’t even top Group C.
The reality is that international football just didn’t suit Trap. Italy have won just two games in the last two tournaments under the veteran – against the not so mighty Ecuador and Bulgaria. They’ve lost to Croatia and South Korea, while being held by Mexico, Denmark and Sweden.
His inability to learn the lessons of the Italian championship was one of his major problems. Stefano Fiore, and Gennaro Gattuso have enjoyed a stunning past year with their clubs. Yet for the opener against Denmark, Trap stuck with his 4-2-3-1 tactics by fielding the likes of Cristiano Zanetti, Mauro Camoranesi and Alex Del Piero – who were all clearly struggling for form.
Trap only turned to Pirlo and Gattuso by accident after the Totti ban. That suspension was also the only reason why Cassano, arguably Italy’s best player at the tournament, got his chance on the big stage.
In 270 minutes of football, only the first 60 against Sweden were of any real note. The team lacked a leader, while too many big name players just didn’t deliver. Christian Vieri was a shadow of himself, while Del Piero flopped yet again. Cassano has done more in two games than Alex has achieved in five major tournaments.
We now seriously have to question whether Del Piero really has a future to play for the national side. Yet with the probable appointment of former Juve boss Marcello Lippi, it does seem likely that he will be back in the squad. But can a simple change of Coach really modify the fortunes of this side? Lippi does have a great record at club level but so did Trap.
Lippi, or whoever the next boss is, needs to build a team that knows how to dominate games. A side that rewards in-form players rather than lives on reputation. The new team must let Pirlo dictate the play, allow Totti to redeem himself, make Italy great again.
The Azzurri may be out of Euro 2004 but the trial for Trap and his players has just begun. Only Buffon, Nesta, Cannavaro, Zambrotta and Cassano can hold their heads up high. The rest need to look at themselves in the mirror and ponder what has just occurred. Azzurri – thanks for nothing…
I too don't think they deserved it. Perhaps in the future, they will take things like this into account when they play their opening match in a group and don't attack. It is their own fault that such a crazy scenario was even possible.
In another group, they may have deserved it. But in their own: no, they clearly did not deserve it.
Totti -- the best player in Serie A last season -- was a fool for getting thrown out for spitting. Vieri clanked dozens of headers over the net with appalling regularity. Trappatoni couldn't shake his ultra-conservative strategy even with a Denmark tie in hand and knowing that a tie against Sweden could result in a group tie-breaker favoring total goals scored. (I won't get into Materazzi playing defense last night like he was guarding Shaquille O'Neal. Only Fiore and Perotta saved what was otherwise a bad midfield.