Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Italy v Ghana 2-0

Unable to watch the game live, I caught the Italy/Ghana match on tape later in the evening and immediately felt calm and relaxed (I had no allegiance to either team) as I slipped into its slick melodramatic narrative. I've never been a fan of the Italian side, as I'd always been turned off by their reliance on catenaccio--offense, defense, defense, defense, end of game. The Azzurri coach, Marcello Lippi, earnestly promised to the world beyond Italia's gates that his team would not engage in the conservative play of yesteryear and that they would be forward-thinking and attack, attack, attack.

I figured Lippi's promise, however sincere, was bullshit. And with the Italian soccer scandal overflowing in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, I didn't expect much from the Azzurri despite all of the great things I had read about the squad and that they were still contenders to take it all regardless of the criminal behaviour festering all around them. More bullshit, I thought smugly, content to ignore them.

The game between the Azzurri and the Black Stars ended up being pretty damn exciting, especially on the heels of the lacerating Czech Republic defeat of the U.S. team. Ghana, led by Chelsea-man Michael Essien, was progressive and swift from the outset. Only in the second half did they lose focus and allow the disappointment of all those missed shots run riot in their heads.

But Italy's eventual 2-0 win was hardly a rout by any stretch of the imagination*. The Black Stars consistently kept the Azzurri flustered, though the bewilderment was often mutual. Italy's relentless attempts on goal were blistering panic attacks slathered with theatrics. See! Luca Toni grimace in existential anguish! See! the Azzurri moan to the heavens for another chance, another chance for communion with the net! And what about those amazing operatic stunts . . . I mean dives . . . eh, I mean injuries? A splendid operatic spectacle, to say the least.

I wish Ghana had pulled off the upset. They sure earned it. But if Italy is going to continue playing with such verve and elasticity, then I might just become a fan yet, scandal or no scandal. I just wish they weren't so damn arrogant.

* watch the Czech/U.S.A. match to witness a real de-pantsing.


Lynda said...
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Lynda said...

Add Italy to Germany for a total of two teams so far in the Cup who appear to have undergone a weird they-still-have-the-same-bodies-but-somebody-switched-their-brains metamorphosis, doubtless at the hands of some mad scientist. Sounds likes Sven wanted in, too, but they wouldn't let him join.

Italy and Germany play attacking football--what other surprises are in store for us over the coming weeks???

sal said...

this was a good match, fun to watch. i thinkn the US will have a tough time with both these teams.

The Manly Ferry said...

I soliciting opinions from interested parties on which American broadcast team attending the World Cup is best and which is worst. My vote and commentary appears here; feel free to chuck in your two cents.

Anonymous said...

i feel italy played a great game and deserved the win. they are and always will be my favourite team because they know how to play soccer beautifully.