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:
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.