After Holland laying down a dutch oven and Germany-Portugal being a log-jammed midfield of a game, was Spain v Italy to be the savior of the weekend?
Due to the lack of confidence in any striker outside of David Villa (injured), Spain came out with six midfielders and zero strikers. Italy also opted for five midfielders, as they went with three in the back. (That means between the two sides, they could field a starting 11 of midfielders.) While the Italians showed some promising end-to-end movement, Spain looked like, well, like they played six midfielders in attack – trying to short pass and dribble the ball into the net. It was largely a half played in the middle third, with Italy looking like the stronger side.
The only thing more surprising about the army of midfielders was that the nations were so well represented in the stands. Surely these poor nations’ fans took out some risky loans in order to come out and cheer for their teams. Germany had to be pissed about it.
Also of note was Italy’s batshit crazy Mario Balotelli being disciplined for punching the turf and being mad, and being Mario Balotelli. His yellow seemed a bit harsh, as his fouls were not hard.
Both sides came out of the half with energy, moving the ball back and forth, creating opportunities and making for some pretty beautiful game. Balotelli lived up to being the most interesting player by taking the ball away from Sergio Ramos and then taking a casual stroll toward the goal. During his afternoon constitutional, Sergio Ramos was able to get back up off the ground, track Mario down, and tackle the ball away from him, before he shot it – though, he may have never been thinking of shooting it, from the looks of it.
The opening goal came when Balotelli was subbed out for Italian legend, Antonio Di Natale, and the titan wasted no time putting the ball in its home on an expert slot. The joy of the Auzzurri was short lived as Spain used their thirteen midfielders to link up on a through ball which Cesc Fabregas one-touched past Gigi Buffon. After the goal, Spain subbed in striker Fernando Torres and he quickly proved time and again why they did not start him. Torres had a handful of great chances and found different ways of squandering the opportunities. After a while I think the Italians were jsut letting him get the ball, as it was doubtful he would be able to convert any chance.
As the game wore on, the tired sides looked to be satisfied with the draw and after some comical Torres gaffes, that is how it would end.
Hair of the Match
While I love the lumberjack look of Daniel De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo continues to refuse to give into trends, opting for the long poofy hair of rock bands long since extinct.