Italy calls, the Azurri answer. Italian soccer fans all over the world are calling for World Cup success. The “Azurri” will heed their call on July 12th when they play Ghana, USA, and the Czech Republic. The Azurri will not stop responding until they capture the Coppa Del Monda for an incredible fourth time!
The looming corruption charges and match “fixing” accusations surrounding one of the top teams in the Italian Series A are (finally) being put on the backburner. The main focus, these days, is Italy’s preparation for the looming 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany. Marcelo Lippi continues to strongly defend his statement “It has nothing to do with the Azurri.” Hopefully this domestic scandal won’t percolate any further.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, the first choice pick of Juventus (who is the main focus of the aforementioned domestic scandal), has arguably the safest hands in the world, between the goal posts. Italy needs his skill during the World Cup. Yet, there is no guarantee that he will escape any FIFA punishment, who knows?
Lippi has always said, “nobody is guaranteed a place on the team.” Alessandro Del Piero and Christian Vieri, claim its good news for Lippi that the magnificent playmaker Francesco Totti has arrived back from injury just in time for the campaign.
Lippi’s not afraid to try out new players, he’s an excellent risk manager. En route to Germany, he tried out Giorgio Chiellini, Cristian Zaccardo, Manuele Blasi, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi, Mauro Esposito, Luca Toni, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alberto Gilardino – nine new players who scored 8 of the 15 goals that won them their place in World Cup 2006.
With only one narrow defeat to Slovenia (1-0 on Oct 9, 2004), Italy overcame all other opponents to comfortably sail into a qualifying place for Germany with seven wins, two draws and that one shallow (almost forgettable) defeat. All this has allowed Italy to place at the top of their group, ahead of Norway, Slovenia and Scotland.
As far as expectations go, every Italian expects Marcelo Lippi to lead Italy to their fourth World Cup.
In Germany, Italy will be entering into the competition for the 16th time. I saw my first World Cup in 1982 (when Alyssa was born!) – back then (at 5 years old) I imagined that I was Paolo Rossi. I was the kid scoring a famous hat trick with the equally famous celebration against Brazil.
It’s worth noting that Italy won their first World Cup title way back in 1934 against Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic).Â In this World Cup, the Czechs are now their opponents in their group. Italy is notorious for starting off slow. I believe they are responsible for the rise in Italy’s health problems every four years. All of a sudden food becomes indigestible, migraines and headaches become chronic problems and stress related pharmaceuticals sell at all time highs.
Italy Group E Fixtures
- Italy v Ghana (Jun 12, Hanover)
- Italy v USA (Jun 17, Kaiserslautern)
- Czech RepÂ v Italy (Jun 22, Hamburg)