Paraguay hold the aging Italians to a draw

Italy is fielding the oldest team in the tournament and it showed when they played at a rainy Green Point Stadium on Monday. The Paraguayans were not intimidated by the current world champions and played a really strong game during the first half.

It wasn’t long before they managed to beat the Italian defense and go 1-0. Antolin Alcaraz, scored for Paraguay in the 39th minute, when he put in a strong header past the experienced Gigi Buffon.

Italy’s coach, Marcelo Lippi will not be too impressed with the marking. Italy are known for their defense but they were made to look ordinary on a few occasions. It’s no secret that many Italian fans feel that captain Fabio Cannavaro is past him prime and do not agree with Lippi’s view of fielding Cannavaro in the starting eleven.

Italy seemed to find their feet during the second half after they changed up their strategy and went with a 4-4-2 field. It was during the 63rd minute when, Daniele De Rossi evened things for the Azzuris.

Although Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo were impressive, I still felt that Italy lacked the flair and skill of a Roberto Baggio or a Del Piero. Not having a star striker could be a huge drawback for the Italians. To make things more complicated, Gigi Buffon went off injured at half time and had to be replaced by Federico Marchetti.

Before the start of the match, the Italians were expected to win this game. The Paraguayans will be happy with the draw. They were not overawed by the occasion and played with freedom. If they can find a little more inspiration and stick to their strategy they could surprise a few teams in this tournament.

The Italians are not considered favourites for this year’s world cup and may actually prefer not wearing the favourite tags after the match fixing scandal in 2006. Their performances during the last two years have been deteriorating and the Italian fans will be disappointed.

With Slovakia and New Zealand in Group F, both Italy and Paraguay should be able to qualify. Marcelo Lippi can take comfort in the fact that Italy is known to start slow in world cup matches and get better as the tournament improves.

The Azzuri’s will have to raise their game by quite a margin if they are to provide serious competition to the likes of Argentina and Germany.

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