Monday, June 14, 2010
Italy Only Ties Paraguay 1-1 in World Cup Debut
The match between the top contenders in Group F ends Italy 1, Paraguay 1. Italy climbed back into this match after Paraguay took a surprise lead in the first half. Antolin Alcaraz put Paraguay in the lead in the 39th minute with a header off a ball that was delivered beautifully by Aureliano Torres. Italy looked shocked and lapsed into a daze that carried over into the second half, until Daniele de Rossi scored to even the match. The Italy goal came in the 63rd minute off a corner kick. Pepe floated the ball deliciously into the six-yard box and Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar came off his line indecisively. Villar punched at the ball and missed, and then watched helplessly as de Rossi tapped the ball into the open net.
World Cup Matchday: Italy 1, Paraguay 1
The New Jersey Star-Ledger; Michael J. Fensom; Monday, June 14, 2010,
Italy climbed back into this match after Paraguay took a surprise lead in the first half. The Italians were able to stave off embarrassment but weren't able to take the full three points. The match between the top contenders in Group F ends Italy 1, Paraguay 1.
Antolin Alcaraz put Paraguay in the lead in the 39th minute with a header off a ball that was delivered beautifully by Aureliano Torres. Italy looked shocked and lapsed into a daze that carried over into the second half, until Daniele de Rossi scored to even the match.
The Italy goal came in the 63rd minute off a corner kick. Pepe floated the ball deliciously into the six-yard box and Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar came off his line indecisively. Villar punched at the ball and missed, and then watched helplessly as de Rossi tapped the ball into the open net.
83rd minute: Montolivo's drive from 40 yards forces a sprawling save from Villar. Italy is finding space in the Paraguay midfield but will probably have to get opportunities closer to the net in order to win today. Paraguay is defending desperately at the moment.
80th minute: Pepe tries his luck from 25 yards out but the ball is smothered easily by Villar.
72nd minute: Antonio Di Natale, a surprise exclusion from the Italy starting 11, has finally come on, replacing Gilardino up front. Gilardino had little impact as Italy's lone striker today.
70th minute: YELLOW CARD. Camorenesi is booked for stepping on Vera's ankle.
70th minute: Just like Italy earlier, Paraguay has been stunned a bit after giving up a goal. The inclusion of Camorenesi and the goal have finally added some verve to the Italian attack. They look hungry to get the full three points from this game.
68th minute: Roque Santa Cruz is on to spur the Paraguay attack. He replaces Valdez up front.
63rd minute: GOAL. Italy evens the match with a goal off a corner kick. De Rossi guides the ball into the net with his foot after a well-placed corner kick by Pepe. Paraguay can blame its captain and goalkeeper Villar for that one. He drifted off his line then made a flailing attempt to punch the ball and whiffed. Italy 1, Paraguay 1.
62nd minute: YELLOW CARD. Paraguay's Caceras is booked for a late challenge.
60th minute: Paraguay makes an adjustment in the midfield as well. Johnathan Santana is on and Torres is off, not before lobbing that delightful ball to Alcaraz to set up the Paraguay goal.
59th minute: Lippi has brought on Camorenesi in hopes that the 33 year old can make an impact in the midfield. Marchisio is off, having made little impact in his hour on the field.
55th minute: Italy's defense does a poor job again. A botched clearance lands at the feet of Vera to Marchetti's left. Vera rips the ball but it goes a foot high and wide of the net. Italy is looking worse and worse as the game has progression. They still look stunned after Paraguay went up in the 39th minute.
46th minute: The second half is underway. A surprise substitution at the half as Buffon has come off for Federico Marchetti. The Italian keeper must have picked up an injury in the first half because there is no obvious reason for Lippi to replace him otherwise.
HALFTIME: Forty-five minutes in and the result so far is a shocker. Paraguay was expected to challenge Italy, but few thought it would be able to beat the defending champions, especially since Paraguay had so few chances in the first half. Alcaraz was able to make good on the one chance Paraguay did have and now Italy will have regroup at the half and find a way to put pressure on Villar, who hasn't yet been tested.
39th minute: GOAL. Paraguay gets the breakthrough against the run of play, and the team and its fans are elated. A deep free kick was lobbed wonderfully from the left of Buffon by Torres and central defender Antolin Alcaraz heads it uncontested into the Italian net. Buffon was frozen to his line but had little chance to stop that anyway. It was the first good scoring chance for Paraguay and the underdogs made it count.
31st minute: The Paraguay defense deserves credit for holding down the Italians to this point. Italy has the greater share of possession but has barely generated a chance worth mentioning.
22nd minute: Paraguay's offense has finally awoken and Torres gets the best chance for the underdogs. The ball fell to him unmarked at the top of the box but he miskicks the Jabulani and it slides wide of Buffon.
14th minute: The rain has begun to fall in Cape Town. With the Jabulani ball being described as slick in dry conditions, it will be interesting to see how the goalkeepers fair when the ball gets wet and is skittering along a damp field.
10th minute: Those old Italians are clearly the better side thus far. They've been active trying to get forward and look lively challenging the ball. Paraguay have yet to manage any threat at all on Buffon.
1st minute: The whistle blows and Italy's defense of the World Cup begins.
Welcome to The Star-Ledger's coverage of Italy and Paraguay from Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. Leave your comments below or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Refresh the page periodically to receive updates on the game.
Italy: Buffon; Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Criscito; De Rossi, Marchisio, Montolivo; Pepe, Gilardino, Iaquinta.
Paraguay: Villar; Bonet, Alcaraz, Da Silva, Morel Rodriguez; Vera, Victor Caceres, Riveros, Torres; Haedo Valdez, Barrios.
* * * Italy
The defending World Cup champions Italy bring a team to South Africa loaded with experience. But with that comes age. Italy will rely on the similar formula of defense and goalkeeping and hope for production from a questionable strike force. In its fourth straight World Cup, Parguay will challenge Italy. Paraguay won 10 games in qualifying, more than Argentina and Brazil.
The Italians will rely on the stalwarts from 2006 and try to integrate new players into their side during the group stage. However, the Italian philosophy of defense first never changes. Like in 2006, Fabio Cannavaro will lead that unit in from of goalkeeper Gigi Buffon who is one of the best in the tournament.
Man to watch: Daniele de Rossi has a hand in everything Italy does on the field. The Azzurri's captain in waiting is a stalking and physical defender but has the ability to initiate the attack moving forward. On a team that has unproven goal scorers on the international level, de Rossi might also be counted on to score a bit.
Injuries of note: Midfielder Andrea Pirlo, one of the best passers in soccer, will miss at least Italy's first two games of the World Cup with a calf injury. Pirlo, however, said he has been encouraged by his progress and is targeting a return against Slovakia, in the final game of Group F. Mauro Camorenesi is not yet match fit after picking up a knee injury.
* * * Paraguay
Paraguay is hoping to emerge out of Group F into the knockout stage along with group favorite Italy. Paraguay has a talented group of strikers, led by Nelson Haedo Valdez (five goals in qualifying) and Roque Santa Cruz, but will probably lay back against Italy and look to strike on the counter attack.
Man to watch: Oscar Cardozo will not start for Paraguay but the striker scored 25 times in 28 games for Benfica in Portugal. Look for Cardozo to come on later in the game and, at 6-4, have an impact as a target in the middle of the field.
Injuries of note: Salvador Cabanas was shot in the head outside a Mexican bar in January. The striker will not be on the field in South Africa, but expects to make a recovery and return to the field sometime next season.