Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Azzurri: Italy struck by Villa thunderbolt

Spain 1-0 Italy (Elche, Spain)
A wonderful left-footed volley from substitute David Villa 12 minutes from time gave Spain a 1-0 victory against world champions Italy in a friendly international in Elche.

Italy made a positive start and after 13 minutes Luca Toni headed an Andrea Pirlo free-kick from the left into the Spanish net but the goal was controversially ruled out for an alleged foul by Fabio Cannavaro at the far post.

The home side quickly got the ball back in play with Fernando Torres making an impressive run down the left. The striker crossed well for David Silva, whose right-footed volley flashed just wide of Gianluigi Buffon's right-hand post.

Spain started to dominate possession in midfield and Buffon was forced to make two saves in quick succession to deny Torres and Cesc Fabregas. Shortly before half time the Azzurri 'keeper made an agile dive to his right to palm another dangerous low shot from Fabregas wide.

Italy threatened from the start of the second half, when Mauro Camoranesi latched on to a low cross by Fabio Grosso and shot left-footed against the bar with Iker Casillas beaten.

Christian Panucci then headed a Daniele De Rossi free-kick over from close range while Spain had a good opportunity to take the lead when Fabregas shot from close range but Buffon made another good save, blocking the midfielder's effort with his body.

Casillas responded with a fine save of his own to deny Camoranesi after the Argentina-born midfielder found himself with only the Real Madrid goalkeeper to beat after a superb one-two with De Rossi.

However, Roberto Donadoni's side were undone as Cannavaro headed a long ball from Xabi Alonso towards Villa, who found the top corner of Buffon's goal with a tremendous volley.

Italy will have one final warm-up game ahead of the European Championship finals against Belgium in Florence on May 30.

[Azzurri Reaction] - [Euro 2008 Rivals]

Source: UEFA

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

U21 Qual: Rossi keeps Azzurrini rolling

Group 1: Azerbaijan U21 0-2 Italy U21 (Baku)
Giuseppe Rossi scored twice as Italy made it seven wins out of eight in the Under-21's Euro 2009 qualifying Group 1 with this victory over Azerbaijan.

The Villarreal forward struck 18 minutes into each half as the group leaders dominated the bottom team in Baku.

Sebastian Giovinco created both goals, with the Empoli playmaker conjuring the breakthrough by playing a one-two with Robert Acquafresca before providing an easy finish for Rossi.

But the Azzurrini didn't have things all their own way. With German coach Bernhard Lippert making his debut at the Azerbaijan helm, the hosts responded well to the setback of falling behind, with winger Asif Mammadov and striker Vagif Dzavadov catching the eye.

Pierluigi Casiraghi's men continued to hold sway in midfield, however, and Giovinco drew the second-half foul from goalkeeper Osman Umarov which signalled the end of the contest as Rossi confidently converted a 63rd-minute penalty.

Giovinco might have scored himself later, while Vugar Nadyrov came closest for the hosts when he narrowly failed to convert a dangerous cross.

The victory keeps Italy on top of Group 1 with 22 points after eight games, and a win in their penultimate game against Greece or in their final game against Croatia in September will secure a spot in the play-offs.

Each group winner, as well as the four highest ranked second place teams in the ten groups, will advance to the play-offs. The play-offs will determine which seven nations join hosts Sweden in the final tournament in June 2009.

But before the concluding double header, Casiraghi can fully concentrate on the "Under-23" squad that will represent Italy at the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

[1] ITA - PLD: 08 - PTS: 22
[2] CRO - PLD: 08 - PTS: 18
[3] GRE - PLD: 07 - PTS: 13
[4] ALB - PLD: 07 - PTS: 10
[5] FAR - PLD: 08 - PTS: 03
[6] AZE - PLD: 08 - PTS: 01

Albania P-P Greece (26/03/08) *

Italy v Greece (05/09/08)
Croatia v Albania (06/09/08)
Azerbaijan v Faroe Islands (06/09/08)

Croatia v Italy (09/09/08)
Albania v Azerbaijan (10/09/08)
Greece v Faroe Islands (10/09/08)

* Albania have been suspended from all international football competition by FIFA and UEFA due to political interference in the running of the Albanian Football Association. As a result their qualifier against Greece set for Wednesday has been postponed until further notice.

Source: UEFA

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Azzurri: Donadoni sticks with trusted lineup

There are no surprises in Roberto Donadoni's 21-man squad for Italy's friendly game against fellow UEFA Euro 2008 contenders Spain in Elche on Wednesday.

Juventus pair Gianluigi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi have returned to the squad after missing February's 3-1 win against Portugal in Zurich due to injuries.

However, Bianconeri captain Alessando Del Piero, Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano and AC Milan's Alberto Gilardino were again excluded from an attack which includes Marco Borriello and Luca Toni, the leading scorers in Serie A and the Bundesliga respectively.

The squad will gather in Milan on Monday where they will train before flying out to Alicante on Tuesday for the match, which kicks off at the Luis Valero stadium in Elche at 2100 (UK time).

After visiting Spain, the Italian Football Federation have confirmed that the Azzurri will face Belgium in Florence on 30 May in the last warm-up game ahead of the finals.

The FIGC also announced that there will be no further discussion about Roberto Donadoni's contract, which expires in July, until after the end of the tournament in Switzerland and Austria.

The Spaniards, who are on an impressive run of 16 unbeaten matches, named a 22-man squad earlier today with coach Luis Aragones again not picking Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Livorno).
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Fabio Grosso (Lyon), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Christian Panucci (Roma), Massimo Oddo (Milan), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona).
Midfielders: Massimo Ambrosini (Milan), Alberto Aquilani (Roma), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan), Simone Perrotta (Roma), Andrea Pirlo (Milan).
Forwards: Marco Borriello (Genoa), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese), Luca Toni (Bayern Munich).

Spain squad
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool).
Defenders: Juanito Gutierrez (Real Betis), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Raul Albiol (Valencia), Alvaro Arbeloa (Liverpool), Fernando Navarro (Mallorca), Carles Puyol (Barcelona).
Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Albert Riera (Espanyol), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), Ruben De La Red (Getafe), Marcos Senna (Villarreal).
Forwards: David Villa (Valencia), Daniel Guiza (Mallorca), Luis Garcia (Espanyol), Fernando Torres (Liverpool).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Donadoni's future to be set after Euro's

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni will have to wait until July to pen a new deal with the Italian Football Federation.

The former Livorno boss had been expected to receive an extension to his current contract, which expires two weeks after UEFA Euro 2008, prior to this summer’s finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Earlier this month, the FIGC had said an agreement with Donadoni would be reached before next Wednesday's friendly with Spain. But despite the assurances of FIGC President Giancarlo Abete that Donadoni is the man to lead the Azzurri in the future, no formal agreement has materialised and it won’t for another four months.

"The base of the relationship between the Federation and Donadoni is the united aim to honour the prestigious tradition of the national side at Euro 2008," a statement read.

"President Abete and Roberto Donadoni want to reiterate that they have a relationship of reciprocal faith and esteem on the professional and personal level that goes beyond contractual issues.

"We will discuss a new deal when the current one expires in July."

There have been suggestions that the FIGC won’t stick with Donadoni if he fails to lead the Azzurri to at least the semi-finals of the European Championships.

Rumours circulated that there would be a rescission clause activated after Euro 2008 should the world champions fail to reach the final four, but it now appears that the FIGC have taken a more transparent approach.

Source: C4 Football Italia

U21: Lanzafame given Azzurrini chance

Bari forward Davide Lanzafame is the only new face in Pierluigi Casiraghi's 21-man squad for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier away to Azerbaijan in Baku on Tuesday.

Lanzafame, who has scored eight goals in 28 Serie B games this term, replaces Empoli striker Nicola Pozzi, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Lanzafame will share the attacking duties with the in-form Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, Giuseppe Rossi and Robert Acquafresca.

The latter, who has scored four goals in his last four Serie A appearance with Cagliari, has this week turned down the opportunity of playing for Poland, where his mother comes from, at senior level.

"I thank Poland for their interest but I decided to continue playing for Italy," the 20-year-old said.

The Azzurrini have won six of their seven games in qualifying Group 1 and have a one-point lead over second-placed Croatia, who have played a game more.

The squad in full:
Enrico Alfonso (Venezia), Andrea Consigli (Rimini), Salvatore Sirigu (Cremonese).
Defenders: Antonio Bocchetti (Frosinone), Paolo De Ceglie (Siena), Lorenzo De Silvestri (Lazio), Lino Marzoratti (Empoli), Marco Motta (Torino), Francesco Pisano (Cagliari), Marco Rossi (Parma).
Midfielders: Francesco Bolzoni (Inter), Luca Cigarini (Parma), Daniele Dessena (Parma), Sebastian Giovinco (Empoli), Claudio Marchisio (Empoli), Piermario Morosini (Vicenza), Andrea Russotto (Treviso).
Attackers: Robert Acquafresca (Cagliari), Davide Lanzafame (Bari), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Fiorentina), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).

Source: UEFA

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Azzurri: Inspired Italy brush aside Portugal

Italy 3-1 Portugal (Zurich, Switzerland)
Italy were in authoritative mood in Zurich where goals from Luca Toni, Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Quagliarella saw the World champions ease to victory against Portugal.

Having won nine of their last ten Euro 2008 qualifiers, the Azzurri looked determined to continue that run at the Letzigrund Stadium and although Andrea Pirlo had an early effort controversially ruled out for handball, they were in control once Toni capitalised to score after Ricardo had misjudged a cross.

The goalkeeper could do nothing about the second goal soon after half-time when Cannavaro deflected in Pirlo's shot, and while Ricardo Quaresma revived Portuguese hopes 13 minutes from time, Quagliarella soon restored the two-goal cushion.

An Italy victory had appeared on the cards right from kick off when Pirlo saw his long-range effort scrubbed out, yet Bruno Alves should have given Portugal the lead midway through the first half but contrived to head over from close range.

It was a warning for Italy, and one that was noted as Roberto Donadoni's team upped the ante. Ricardo made a fine save to deny Antonio Di Natale following good work from Raffaele Palladino, but was culpable on the cusp of half-time when he failed to hold a Fabio Grosso cross and Toni pounced.

Ricardo made amends five minutes after the interval when he kept out Toni, yet any relief was fleeting and 60 seconds later it was 2-0 as Pirlo's right-footed shot deflected off Cannavaro and past the keeper.

It was all Italy and Ricardo was at full length to tip Palladino's volley on to the crossbar, although Portugal found a way back into the game when Quaresma fired in. A minute later, order was restored as Quagliarella, who had just replaced Palladino, volleyed in from close range.

Italy will face another Iberian test next month when they travel to Elche to play Spain on March 26.

[Match Report] - [Azzurri Reaction] - [Euro 2008 Rivals]

Source: UEFA

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

U21: Rossi the difference for Azzurrini

Friendly: Italy U21 2-1 Netherlands U21 (Ferrara)
Goals from Daniel Pablo Osvaldo and Giuseppe Rossi gave Italy victory against European Under-21 champions the Netherlands at the Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara.

Both teams qualified for the Olympic football tournament last summer and used this friendly as preparation for next August's Games in Beijing.

The visitors enjoyed more of the possession but it was the Azzurrini that showed the greater cutting edge.

Pierluigi Casiraghi's side went into half-time in front after Rossi fed Osvaldo on the break and the Fiorentina striker fired past the on-rushing Piet Velthuizen in the Dutch goal.

Rossi added the second after the restart when his shot was deflected by Henrico Drost beyond Velthuizen.

Royston Drenthe pulled one back 15 minutes from time, but Ryan Donk's dismissal soon after effectively ended Dutch hopes.

The Under-23 tournament at the Olympics begin on August 6. The draw will be made on April 20 in Beijing.

Source: UEFA

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Azzurri: Donadoni names squad for Portugal

Genoa striker Marco Borriello is the new face in Italy's 20-man squad for the friendly game against Portugal in Zurich on Wednesday, while goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was not included after missing the last three games with Juventus due to a back injury.

The 25-year-old Borriello, whose playing license is partially owned by AC Milan, has scored 12 goals in 18 Serie A games this season for Genoa.

Luca Toni, Antonio Di Natale, Fabio Quagliarella and Raffaele Palladino complete the attacking options while there is no space for Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Cassano.

Inter defender Marco Materazzi and Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani return in the squad after recovering from their respective injuries, while Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso misses out after suffering a thigh injury earlier this week.

Meanwhile coach Roberto Donadoni has called Livorno's Marco Amelia and Sevilla's Morgan De Sanctis to cover Buffon's absence.

The Azzurri will come together in Milan for training on Monday afternoon and fly to the Swiss capital for Wednesday’s match at the Letzigrund Stadium, which kicks-off at 1945 UK time (+1hr for Italy/Switzerland).

The World champions will face France, the Netherlands and Romania in Group C at this summer's UEFA Euro 2008 finals in Switzerland and Austria.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Marco Amelia (Livorno) & Morgan De Sanctis (Sevilla).
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Marco Cassetti (Roma), Fabio Grosso (Lyon), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Massimo Oddo (Milan) & Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona).
Midfielders: Massimo Ambrosini (Milan), Alberto Aquilani (Roma), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Simone Perrotta (Roma), Andrea Pirlo (Milan) & Franco Semioli (Fiorentina).
Forwards: Marco Borriello (Genoa), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Raffaele Palladino (Juventus), Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese) & Luca Toni (Bayern Munich).

Portugal squad
Goalkeepers: Quim (Benfica), Ricardo (Real Betis) & Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon).
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Porto), Fernando Meira (Stuttgart), Jorge Ribeiro (Boavista), Bosingwa (Porto), Marco Caneira (Valencia), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea) & Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Deco (Barcelona), Petit (Benfica), Maniche (Inter), Raul Meireles (Porto) & Nani (Manchester United).
Forwards: Ariza Makukula (MarĂ­timo), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Nuno Gomes (Benfica) & Ricardo Quaresma (Porto).

Source: UEFA

Friday, February 01, 2008

U21: Casiraghi names Azzurrini squad

Siena pair Luca Rossettini and Daniele Galloppa have earned call-ups to Pierluigi Casiraghi’s Azzurrini squad to face the Netherlands in a friendly next week.

Italy’s Under-21 side are moving comfortably towards qualification for the 2009 UEFA European Championships in Sweden - sitting top of qualifying Group 1.

Casiraghi will test his side out against the current European champions in Ferrara on Tuesday night, ahead of next month’s crucial trip to Azerbaijan.

Following that qualifier, the Azzurrini will be preparing for the Under-23 football tournament at the Beijing Olympic Games - which takes place in August, before concluding their qualifying campaign against Greece and Croatia in September.

Only four of the members of the side that took part in last year's European Championship finals are named in the latest squad – Brescia goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, Udinese defender Andrea Coda and midfielders Riccardo Montolivo of Fiorentina and Antonio Nocerino from Juventus.

Siena midfielder Galloppa has earned a return to the international fold with his recent impressive performances in Serie A and will be joined by teammate Rossettini, who makes his debut.

The squad will gather on Sunday evening after their weekend games and will have their first training session in Spal on Monday.

The squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Andrea Consigli (Rimini), Emiliano Viviano (Brescia).
Defenders: Andrea Coda (Udinese), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Paolo De Ceglie (Siena), Lino Marzoratti (Empoli), Marco Motta (Torino), Luca Rossettini (Siena), Marco Rossi (Parma).
Midfielders: Luca Cigarini (Parma), Daniele Galloppa (Siena), Sebastian Giovinco (Empoli), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Piermario Morosini (Vicenza), Antonio Nocerino (Juventus), Andrea Russotto (Treviso).
Attackers: Alessio Cerci (Pisa), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Fiorentina), Nicola Pozzi (Empoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).

Source: C4 Football Italia

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Italy to open World Cup campaign against Cyprus

Italy will begin their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign away to minnows Cyprus in Nicosia on 6 September.

A delegation led by the FIGC President Giancarlo Abete and coach Roberto Donadoni met with the representatives of the Azzurri's Group 8 opponents in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia today to thrash out a favourable schedule.

The World champions then host Georgia on 10 September before travelling to Sofia to face undoubtedly their toughest opponents Bulgaria on 11 October. The year ends with a home match against Montenegro four days later.

Donadoni's side conclude their qualifying campaign at home to the Cypriots on 14 October 2009, four days after playing the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

The new year, which will see Italy participate in the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, will open with a potentially tough double header with an away trip to Montenegro and a home tie against Ireland in March and April 2009.

September 2009 sees the Azzurri travel to Georgia before hosting Bulagaria.

Full Azzurri Calendar
06-09-2008: Cyprus v Italy
10-09-2008: Italy v Georgia

11-10-2008: Bulgaria v Italy
15-10-2008: Italy v Montenegro

28-03-2009: Montenegro v Italy
01-04-2009: Italy v Republic of Ireland

05-09-2009: Georgia v Italy
09-09-2009: Italy v Bulgaria

10-10-2009: Republic of Ireland v Italy
14-10-2009: Italy v Cyprus

Thursday, January 10, 2008

[Beijing 2008] Casiraghi eyes Olympic dream team

Italy Under-21 boss Pierluigi Casiraghi has surprisingly revealed that he wants some veteran stars to join his squad for the Olympic Games.

Casiraghi will be called upon to name 18 players for a Under-23 squad to travel to Beijing and only 15 of these must have been born after January 1, 1985.

This requirement allows the Monza-born coach to call three overage players and he has set his sights high.

"It depends on Roberto Donadoni’s selections for Euro 2008 and obviously the priority goes to the younger players such as Alberto Aquilani and Giorgio Chiellini.

"But that doesn’t mean that I’m excluding some heroes like Pippo Inzaghi and Alessandro Del Piero. I’d also like Gigi Buffon and Luca Toni."

The football tournament will take place in China between August 6 and 23 and many of Casiraghi’s decisions could be dictated by the decisions of players and clubs.

Italy qualified by winning the Olympic play-off match against Portugal in last year's UEFA Under-21's European Championships in the Netherlands and will find out their group opponents when the draw is made on 20 April.

The Azzurrini took the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens after a 1-0 win over Iraq in the third-placed final.

Source: C4 Football Italia

Monday, December 17, 2007

[World Rankings] Azzurri finish 2007 in third

Italy will finish 2007 in third place in FIFA’s World Rankings as Argentina end the year in pole position.

The Azzurri’s successful Euro 2008 qualification campaign hasn’t been enough to lift Roberto Donadoni’s men back to the top.

Copa America runners-up Argentina stole first place from the World champions in October and remain there despite their 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the Final.

Although December's ranking is relatively unchanged, the leadership of the rankings changed six times with the Albiceleste now ending the year as 'Team of the Year'.

Italy’s Euro 2008 Group C opponents France and the Netherlands are in seventh and eighth respectively and Romania are thirteenth.

The next ranking will be published on 16 January 2008.

World Top 10 (December 2007):
[1] Argentina, 1523 points
[2] Brazil, 1502
[3] Italy, 1498
[4] Spain, 1349
[5] Germany, 1298
[6] Czech Republic, 1290
[7] France, 1243
[8] Portugal, 1241
[9] Netherlands, 1170
[10] Croatia, 1129

[Full Rankings]

Source: FIFA