Ugly kits and an ugly performance from Italy
Maybe it was the colour of the shirts. Maybe if they had turned up wearing the traditional blue that “Azzurri’ history demands rather than that weird Coventry City-esque dishwater grey with the ugly maroon shorts, things might have gone differently.
Instead, when Italy played Egypt on Thursday night, it was the African side who played the way Italy should play, at least according to stereotype. Hassan Shehata’s troops defended extremely well, frustrating the opposition and relying on individual bursts, usually against the run of play, for their attacking inroads. One of them, Mohammed Homos’ header from a setpiece, gave the Egyptians the single goal they needed.
If Egypt was impersonating the Italy of old, it’s hard to say what the Azzurri looked like. Marcello Lippi opted for a fluid front three of Fabio Quagliarella, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Giuseppe Rossi, rather than the more otrthodox “big man plus two wingers” approach seen against the USA. Those three, plus Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings from midfield, were supposed to guarantee quality, creativity and unpredictability. Instead, they served up a lot of smoke with very little fire, lacking both directness and a cutting edge.
Lippi will dine out on his 2006 World Cup win for the rest of his life and his achievements have certainly earned him the right to experiment as he did against Egypt. But less than a year from now these games will begin to count for real. And, by that date, he’ll need to give the Azzurri a firm footballing identity, something they’ve lacked for a while now.
and another one:
Marcello Lippi needs a case for the defence