After yesterday’s fantastic showing from group B, the focus turns to group C for a match pitting the past 2 World Cup winners. Defending European champion Spain takes on an Italian side that once again sees disaster brewing on the homefront. With another scandal brewing, the pressure is on the national team to display a much better effort than the one they gave in South Africa. While Italy has always been known for their defensive mentality, Spain provides another test all together. Lineups are below, and join me after the jump for a liveblog of the shenanigans. Dodgy refereeing is guaranteed for this match, along with some racist jokes if the Eastern Europeans don’t do their job.
Italian XI: Buffon – Maggio, Chiellini, Bonucci, Thiago Motta, Marchisio, Giaccherini, De Rossi, Pirlo, Balotelli, Cassano
Italian Bench: Sirigu, De Sanctis – Ogbonna, Balzaretti, Abate, Barzagli, Montolivo, Diamanti, Nocerino, DiNatale, Borini, Giovinco
Spain XI: Casillas – Pique, Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc, Xabi Alonso, Busquets, David Silva
Spain Bench: Victor Valdes, Reina – Raul Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Pedro, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente
Pregame: Interesting lineup from Del Bosque. no Torres or Llorente in the lineup. I guess David Moyes paid the Spanish National Team a visit
Pregame: Also Italy running out the old-school 3-5-3. The 3 forwards include the ref for the match who they paid off.
Pregame: Can we get Kasey Keller paired with Ian Darke for a match or two? I want to see what future USMNT broadcasts will sound like, My ears may not have to bleed for OOSSAA anymore
Pregame: Teams are out of the tunnel. Is it just me or is the official Euro entrance music a ripoff from The Chronicles of Narnia movies?
Pregame: Thoughts as the camera pans across Spanish players, Douche, idiot, asshole, moron, hate that guy, hope he breaks something
TWEET! And we are off in the first game of group C, Spain plays a short pass to start things off
2nd Minute: Already Italy showing an attempt to always press the Spanish players. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up, corner to Spain now
3rd Minute: Italy has some trouble to initially clear the corner. Note that De Rossi is actually playing as an old school sweeper, a good strategy to ruin the Spanish thru balls, especially with no true striker up top
5th minute: Free kick to Italy by the far sideline about 22 yards out, couldn’t get it into the box far enough and it is easily cleared
7th minute: Corner to Italy, sent in short, and nothing comes of it. Why the fuck do you do short corners against a side that has a lack of height like Spain. Let someone get a fucking head on it.
9th minute: Spanish corner is hit back out to Xavi after bouncing around, Silva gets it and hits it into row T. Italians are having a lot of trouble clearing their box
10th minute: Balotelli earns a corner after he gets into the match. this better not be a short corner… And it can’t even clear the first defender
11th minute: Spain breaks after Balotelli makes a meal of a backwards header, Silva can only shoot the ball straight at Buffon
12th minute; Free kick Italy 20 yards out, Pirlo with the effort after Balotelli went over it, SAVED CASILLAS! Well taken kick but Casillas sees it away
17th minute: Mota wins the award for biggest actor so far today. He got caught in the shoulder by a high boot, but it wasn’t that hard, and he killed a promising Italian attack to boot.
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21st minute: Game is a little more balanced, Italy seems to have finally settled in
23rd minute: CHANCE ITALY!! Cassano slides the ball across in a half shot/cross idea, Casillas can’t get it but neither can Balotelli and it just goes wide
24th minute: Problem with 4-6-0 in this match is De Rossi as sweeper. With no froward, De Rossi is free to move around. Spain needs to put a target forward on de Rossi so they can play thru balls down the wing and open up the Italian defense. Spain can do better to make some diagonal runs too
27th minute: Free kick to Spain, Xavil plays it in to no avail, Silva eventually takes a tame 35 yard shot to Buffon
30th minute: Spain continuing to get some opportunities, still need the final ball to be better. Iniesta has a good chance near post after a corner, but Buffon got down easily to smother it
32nd minute: Fabregas shows his Arsenal colors there. Ball was played into him and he could’ve turned and been in on goal, but he plays it back. Then ball goes back to Casilla, and Cassano acts like a dick and earns a yellow card for a foul on him. On the restart Buffon has to come off his line to catch the ball at the top of the box and almost stepped out
34th minute: Cassano CHANCE!! He moves from left to right and hits a tricky ball at Casillas. The Spaniard wasn’t set right and awkwardly kept it out. balotelli then fouls a defender when trying to chase down the rebound
36th minute: Marchisio CHANCE!! Ball crossed to top of the box and he volley’s it. If Casillas had to take more than 2 steps it would’ve been in. Now a foul on Balotelli, and of course he earns a yellow card
38th minute: A lack of support for Spanish players going forward. Iniesta dispossessed inside the box, but no one was offering a drop there
40th minute: this match is crying out for Llorente. Spain refuses to play outside the width of the 18 when attacking, but with Llorente’s height they could play it out wide to spread out the Italian defense
43rd Minute: corner to Spain, gets hit out, but Spain try to play a short ball over the top and it goes out for a goal kick
45th minute: CHANCE SPAIN! Xavi picks out Iniesta who tries to chip Buffon but has no luck. Probably the best chance for Spain today
46th minute: CHANCE ITALY. Cassano crosses it in near post. Mota with the header, and Casillas gets a palm to it. Great chance great save
TWEET TWEET! That is the halftime whistle and we are level at 0-0 in this Group C thriller.
If Spain wants to break down Italy they either need to play quicker, or bring a striker on. Not occupying De Rossi’s space is killing them in releasing players. None of the midfielders get high enough until they are in the box too.
For their credit Italy is defending like the U.S. did in 2009, but not quite as successfully. Italy needs to force Spain out wide more to reduce the pressure on their center backs. Idea to use De Rossi as a sweeper was brilliant, and if this works we could see more teams play against Spain like this
And there is Bob Ley with your Euro 2012 racism report of the day brought to you by the KKK, don’t you just love Eastern Europe?
46th minute: And we are back. No changes from either side yet
50th minute: CHANCE SPAIN! Shot taken near post, Buffon with the diving save
51st minute: CHANCE SPAIN! Inistea with a shot far post and Buffon saves it. Corner results in squat
Someone should tell Italy the second half started
54th minute: Wow Balotelli, does great work to get the ball from Ramos’ backpass, and Mario lazily dribbles into the 18 and is dispossed by Ramos, very poor there should have had a shot or crossed to to cassano.
SUB ITALY Balotelli is off for De Natale
DI NATALE GOAL!!!!!!! In the 61st minute the sub is played thru andbeats casillas with a strike to the far post 1-0 to Italy
BRILIANT SPANISH GOAL!!!!! we are all tied in the 64th minute. Silva plays a thru ball at the to pof the box to Fabregas who one times it past Buffon. They finally got their moment but it is all level now.
Sub for Sapin, Navas on for Silva
Cassano off for GioVinco on the Italian side as well
66th minute: Yello card to Bonucci for a foul on the kneecap
70th minute: Buffon decides to do pull ups on the cross bar after a Spanish cross was deflected out.
71st minute: Italian free kick after an attempted Spanish bicycle. Spain needs to stop sending in high lofted crosses to the back post. gives the defense too much time to react
73rd minute: Navas has changed the game for Spain, he has been willing to go down the right side and provide more width. Just had a good chance off a cross by him
SUB SPAIN: Fabregas off for Fernando “Misses the Barn Door” Torres
75th minute: Buffon save!! Torres is played thru and Buffon comes out quickly, manages to steal it from Torres, who had no idea what he was doing with the ball
77th minute: CHance Italy, Di Natale played in over the top, and his sliding volley goes wide
80th minute: Spain free kick from about 25 out in the center. Xavi and Xavi over it, and it goes off the face of someone in the wall
83rd minute: Another Torres fail as he streaks down the right, but losses the ball despite the Spanish numbers in attack
85th minute: Torres gets a yellow card for elbowing De Rossi. And yes he did elbow him, but I’m ok with it.
85th minute: CHANCE SPAIN!! Torres splits the defense and Buffon rushes way out. Torres then epically fails on the chip despite Buffon being at the top of the box
88th minute: Navas with a half chance from out wide, and Buffon gets down easily. ITALY CHANC!!! in the counter, but it was straight at Casillas
89th minute: Yellow card for Italy, and now a sub. Motta is off for Nocerino
3 minutes of stoppage time.
92nd minute: CHANCE SPAIN!! Ball played to top of the box, and Alonso hits it wide
TWEET TWEET TWEET! And that is the end of this one. Final score is 1-1, and this helps Ireland and Croatia, but one of them will need a victory in about an hour.
The Italians had a brilliant strategy of using a sweeper to prevent Spain’s thru balls. It worked for most of the night and required absolute brilliance on the part of Spain to break it down.
Spain definitely looks a bit down, but remember they lost to the Swiss in South Africa before reeling off a fantastic few matches to win the World Cup.
That is it for me here. Keith will take care of you for the Croatia-Ireland match coming up in about an hour