Sabato, 20 Aprile 2019
Dimensione testo

Soccer: Italy satisfied with Confederations Cup campaign


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, July 1 - Italy might not have won the
Confederations Cup, but coach Cesare Prandelli is satisfied that
his side have shown they can be real contenders when they return
to Brazil for the World Cup next year.
The Azzurri combatted the fatigue of long seasons with
their clubs, the intense Brazilian heat and the loss of star
striker Mario Balotelli to deservedly take the tournament's
'bronze medal'.
They only lost one match - 4-2 to Brazil in the final group
game but the scoreline was flattering to the hosts and eventual
winners - and caused lots of problems for Spain in the
semi-final before going out 7-6 on penalties after a goalless
Prandelli's men also won two group games against decent
opposition, Mexico and Japan, and kept battling away in the
third-place playoff against Uruguay, even though no silverware
was at stake.
They were rewarded when goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saved
three penalties in the shootout to give Italy a place on the
podium after the game ended 2-2.
''I'm proud of my players,'' Prandelli said.
''Once again we didn't give up and I have to thank the guys
for having given more than I could have imagined. ''The
balance sheet of the tournament is more than positive.
''We showed great character and generosity (of spirit). We
played well and we grew in terms of continuity.
''We deserved third place because we developed a lot and
gave good performances.
''It isn't easy when you're running on empty, but these
guys gave everything they had and that's not something that
could be taken for granted, given the great heat.
''When you're not right physically, you can only react in
this way if you dig out your pride''. The experience will
no doubt be useful for Italy, who are close to qualifying for
the World Cup, in view of the big event next year and not just
because it gave them an idea of the conditions they will meet.
The positive, attack-orientated approach Prandelli adopted
after he took command of the national team continues to bear
fruit and his players showed they have the character to apply it
even against the world's best, as seen in the matches against
Spain and Brazil.
They also proved they are not dependant on Balotelli, who
pulled out of the squad with a thigh injury he suffered against
the home team, while Andrea Pirlo confirmed his playmaking
skills are unparallelled.
Meanwhile, other players who had been fringe members of the
squad showed they are capable of stepping up to the plate at
this level, such as midfielders Antonio Candreva, Emanuele
Giaccherini and Alessandro Diamanti and full back Mattia De
The defence was not as firm as it usually is for an Italy
team, but fatigue may have been a factor, and goalkeeper
Gianluigi Buffon had some uncharacteristic lapses, although he
made up for them in the Uruguay shootout. The
Confederations Cup, which takes place the year before a World
Cup in the host nation and features the world champions and the
champions of the continents, is not considered a major
But Italy's failure at the 2009 Confederations Cup proved
to be a foretaste of the then-holder's embarrassing group-stage
exit at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
So Prandelli told his side he wanted them to take the
competition seriously this time and they obliged.
The omens are good.
Spain came third at the 2009 Confederations Cup a year
before becoming world champion.
Italy qualified for the Confederations Cup as Euro 2012
runners-up because European champions Spain already had a slot
as World Cup holders.

© Riproduzione riservata

* Campi obbligatori

Immagine non superiore a 5Mb (Formati permessi: JPG, JPEG, PNG)
Video non superiore a 10Mb (Formati permessi: MP4, MOV, M4V)


Accedi con il tuo account Facebook

Login con

Login con Facebook