No striker? That’s right Spain started with no strikers as they adopted six midfielders which has worked very successfully for Barcelona. Italy on the other hand opted for two defenders with De Rossi as sweeper so this game could have gone either way. It panned out to be a very mediocre game of football without the flare everyone expected.
Fatigue was what seemed to be holding the Spaniards back as their play appeared very lethargic with no real penetration or purpose in their play. The first real chance came from an Andrea Pirlo free-kick on 13 minutes which was well saved by Casillas. Italy were using the ball much more effectively and they showed a real fluidity in their play. As half time approached Spain were dire in the final third and Iker Casillas was definitely the busier of the two keepers. The best chance of the half fell to Thiago Motta whose header was well saved by Casillas. He got down low from close range and the Italians could take great heart going into the break.
The second half could only get better from both sides. Balotelli wasn’t on form on the day and it was no surprise that he was replaced early in the second half by Di Natale, who was to half an instant impact. Pirlo skipped past Xavi in midfield and played in Di Natale three minutes after he replaced Balotelli and he didnt disappoint. He curled the ball past the on rushing Casillas to put the Italians into a deserving lead. If anything, the goal was healthy for Spain as they now had to respond or risk losing their opening game. Their response was instant and devastating for the Italians. Withing three minutes, they were level when Silva flicked a clever ball into Fabregas who buried the ball past Buffon. It was all square again, surely their would be a third goal?
Unfortunately their was not but Spain will see this game as a missed oppurtunity as they should have scored three or four in the closing moments. Torres was sent on by Del Bosque to win them the game, if anything he chucked it away for them. He had two glorious opportunities which four years ago he would have buried. It just wasn’t his day and I have a feeling it won’t be his tournament. He was later booked for a rash challenge which summed up his contribution to the game it has to be said.
The result shouldn’t hamper either side in progressing from the group as they both have enough quality to get out of Group C. Italy will be much more content with a point whereas Spain will feel they have missed an oppurtunity in Gdansk earlier today.