Thursday, 7 June 2007

Far Oer 1 - 2 Italia; Lituania 0 - 2 Italia

So on Saturday night the Azzurri won with two goals from 33 yr old won-everything Pippo Inzaghi and yesterday with two (fantastic) goals from 23 yrd old not-won-so-much-as-the- bingo Fabio Quagliarella. A pleasing indication that though the World Cup winning team (of which Pippo was really only technically a part) may have been at least partially dismantled, there is hope for the future. Quagliarella earned his first ever start, after a few short sub appearances, and was perhaps a surprising choice given that he only scored 13 goals for Sampdoria this season. Nonetheless that doesn't reflect his true ability or potential - and I must say he's impressed me when I've seen him this season - and with Gila and Toni out injured and Totti and the Azzurri still 'on a break' options were limited. Brocchi and Lucarelli were also in the squad, but the Lazio striker didn't impress agaisnt the Faroes, and Lucarelli will never, I think, be properly accepted by the football establishment.

So the standings in Qualifying Group E are as follows:

France 18
Italy 16
Scotland 15
Ukraine 12
Lithuania 7
Georgia 6
Far Oes 0

Meanwhile back at the Totti story: he's said he's not physically up to playing all the time. He doesn't want to retire, he'd love to play on for the National side, but he can't play every game. Phsyically this is fair enough: it's his body, his career, and I think it's no coincidence he's had such a spectacular season at the same time as he's opted out of the Azzurri. Reading between the lines he wants a Ryan Giggs-like deal where he turns up for big games and doesn't have to travel to... say... the Faroe islands or Lithuania. To play in cold, rainy night games in tumbledown stadia in front of 3 men and their reindeer. He hasn't demanded this, obviously, pointing out that it's up to the coach. As indeed it is. Tricky one for Donadoni: because really however justifiable in terms of an individual player's physical condition, the Nazionale *cannot* be a part-time job. Either you're fully commited and full-time or you're not. I think the damage done to the prestige of the side, to dressing-room cohesion, to the balance between personalities, might be fatal. Still, it remains 'tutto a chiarire.' Gigi Riva is the key man here: he's part of the direction of the Nazionale and has acted as a bit of a personal mentor to Totti, defending him after the Poulsen incident and supporting him through the last 4 years, and he is trying to negotiate some kind of functional rapprochement between Totti and the Nazionale.

Funnily enough public opinion has ever so slightly swung back towards Totti after the weekend intervention of one M. Platini, at his legendarily diplomatic finest, who said 'If I were Donadoni I'd tell him to come here and shut up.' Many people, even those who share the sentiment, are indignant about the ceaseless poking in of his nose where it doesn't belong, and the anti-Platini factor may just keep people supporting our Francè. Patience, though, is running thin - quite understandably - and there have been mutterings from senior FIGC bods that the situation is becoming farcical. Steady yourselves there at the back... Italian football? farcical? whatever next.


egan said...

Sounds quite similar to the Jari Litmanen circus in Finland. No-one will ever tell Litmanen to shove it, so the build up to every game is dominated by a will-he-won't-he pantomime that must demoralise the other players when he doesn't make it.

I come down firmly on the
'tell him to bugger off' side of the fence. For Totti at least, not sure about Litmanen.

ginkers said...

I think the Totti tale only really ever becomes a major issue after a bad performance. Of course, you would want all your best players in the squad but, equally, he has been fighting back from injury.

The boys played alright in both games considering the absences. So bring on France, whoever we might have in our squad.

Aussie Romanista said...

Totti is not a big game player, especially for Italy. He was invisible in the world cup final. If he is called up for September's match v France it will be a travesty of justice for Quagliarella, and Del Piero who will probably be benched for him. Totti does not deserve a call up, and I hope he doesn't play, and I couldn't care less if he never plays for Italy again. Anyone who considers themself Romano first (or Napoletano, or Milanese or whateverese) and Italian second should have been born in Spain (or Catalunya or Andalucia...).
He should be told in no uncertain terms, answer the call each and every time or you won't be called ever again.
We don't really need him. Platini is 100% right.
Rejecting the call is an insult to players who gave and would give blood for the Azzurri shirt, to Italians and Italian fans all over the world who live for the national team, travel from the other side of the world to see them and feel proud to be Italian because of them.

Spangly Princess said...

I agree that Totti is not generally a big game player (for Roma or for Italy, quite frankly) and think that it would probably be best for Donadoni to put a stop to all this nonsense.

"Anyone who considers themself Romano first (or Napoletano, or Milanese or whateverese) and Italian second should have been born in Spain (or Catalunya or Andalucia...)."

erm... this is where we part company. Because I think that would rule out most of the country and most of Italy's fans never mind players. It's always expats who say this to me, never native born and living Italians. Certainly I wasn't brought up like that: I was brought up in the belief I had a nonna milanese, mica una nonna italiana.

Your personal dedication - which is of course shared by many others - is admirable but it's probably more common out of Italy than within. This may be beacuse the idea of Italy is so much better than the reality. And national identiy is still such a tenuous construct, applying above all to negative features.

Aussie Romanista said...

I agree with you, that that's the way it is in Italy. But I don't think it's right or should be that way. When I was in Italy before the world cup last year people said to me that they were disgusted with Italy because of moggiopoli and wouldnt support them in the world cup. What the national team or the players had to do with it, they coudln't tell me. I told them they were crazy. In Rome, Verona, Milan, people wore Brazil shirts and jackets everywhere. The fact that they beat us in 2 finals was forgotten. But come kickoff time against Ghana they showed how full of shit and hypocrytical they were because they were all in front of their tv's watching and jumping off their seats when Pirlo scored the opener. Then we win the tournament and suddenly everyone's united in this new Italian pride.
Whether that's relevant to the argument I don't know, it was simply my observation.

Gattuso said it best after the CL final when he said that winning the champions league still didn't compare to the emotion of winning the world cup with Italy. It would be nice if all players shared that sentiment. Luckily it's only a few dispensible few who don't.