Just for fun I’ve been bouncing around various Italian news sites to see their reaction to yesterday’s match. With the help of Google’s language tools and some translation from FIFAWorldCup.com, it hasn’t been pretty.
On the teams overall performance, the press is unrelenting. Corriere dello Sport ran with the headline ‘An Italy of Madmen‘ later saying the team was ‘confused and nervous’.
"Italy did little, too little in the whole of the second half," it added. "It seemed like they (the USA) had an extra man. Something had gone wrong for sure."
Ouch. It didn’t stop there.
Even the more moderate press was piling on.
Gazzetta dello Sport struggled to take positives from a match which it called a "cold shower after the victory (over Ghana) in the opening match". "Looking at the (Group E) standings, with Italy top with four points, one could even talk about a small step forwards, but from the point of view of Italy’s image and their game their performance represents a worrying double step backwards."
Many analysts also faulted Lippi for not being able to sub when the US sat back to preserve the tie.
The Coach also confessed that he had made a tactical error in the second half. "When I saw Bruce Arena order his players to sit back, Pippo Inzaghi would’ve thrived in those circumstances. Unfortunately, I had already completed my substitutions."
The press agreed that "It was practically nine vs nine, as Perrotta could barely run." Of course many US fans are questioning Arena not using his final substitution to put Eddie Johnson into the match.
Overall, I thought Lippi handled it very well and didn’t seem to discount the US performance as a fluke. He clearly felt the US played very hard and were formidable opponents. He felt Group E was ‘a group of iron’ and I’d have to agree.
The FIFAWorldCup.com article notes further Italian reaction to De Rossi’s elbow and red card. There is no spinning excuses because he’s a countryman. They are calling him out on it and calling for his benching.
"It can’t pass unobserved the numerical superiority that the Azzurri should have taken advantage of during the second half," Tuttosport said.
"De Rossi has enormous responsibilities and Lippi would do well to shut the door on his World Cup," it said.
"Apart from the suspension, De Rossi should finish his days in Germany on the bench."
Italy’s Channel 4 Football Italia noted this is nothing new.
Italy’s game seemed to crumble, as less than a minute later Daniele De Rossi was sent off for elbowing Brian McBride. The American was left with a large cut under his eye and nobody could argue with the dismissal, which was nothing new for the fiery Roma youngster.
Italy’s coach was less severe, but clearly felt this was serious and could be a major impact on his career.
[Italian manager] Marcello Lippi has warned Daniele De Rossi that he has to change his attitude or risk ending his international career just as it’s beginning.
"I haven’t spoken to him personally yet. I’m letting him stew in his own juices," said the Coach in today’s Press conference. "Daniele put himself in this situation, but it’s one that started long before last night."
The Roma midfielder is only 22, but already well known for his fiery temper and tendency to commit reckless fouls. His World Cup could be over after he elbowed Brian McBride just 29 minutes into the 1-1 draw with the USA.
"I will speak to him, as he’s a fantastic lad who has the trust and respect of everyone here, but he has got to change his attitude, or he’ll create a nasty reputation for himself. Italian players do have an unfortunate habit of jumping with their elbows out to protect themselves and it’s a difficult tendency to shake off. However, it’s not true we’re the only ones with bad habits. In this tournament, for example, I have regularly seen players of other nations prompt the referee to book an opponent."
This raises a very interesting question. Direct red cards not only result in suspension from the next match, they are also reviewed by FIFA and can result in further punishment, meaning De Rossi could be out for more than one match.
Lippi and De Rossi both tried to explain it was just an accident resulting from the spreading of the arms to protect when going up for a header. De Rossi felt it was just an unfortunate accident.
"I spread my arms and caught him," the 22-year-old De Rossi told reporters after being sent off in the 28th minute for an incident which left McBride needing three stitches under his left eye.
"I’m sorry. I certainly didn’t want to hurt him and didn’t want to give him an elbow, and I’m sorry for my team mates."
Lippi felt Italian players too often spread their arms on headers.
Italian players do have an unfortunate habit of jumping with their elbows out to protect themselves and it’s a difficult tendency to shake off.
I’m sorry, but that was not an accidental elbow. De Rossi was in the air and clearly used his elbow to maintain position on the ball. Did he mean to crack McBride in the face – yes. He had to really swing back hard to draw blood like that and knock McBride to the pitch. Had it been incidental, McBride still would have had his bell rung some, but not like that. And my memory may be failing me, but I don’t recall De Rossi’s left elbow swinging in the same manner.
So the big question will be what happens to De Rossi for the rest of the cup. What do you all think he deserves? And had this been a US player who threw the elbow, would the US press have been as unforgiving?