Before the tournament started I picked Australia to upset Italy here, and from what I have seen I am going to stick with that pick. Australia create chances and never say die; Italy have all the pressure on them to win and advance, while Australia have none. The longer this match goes tied, the more tight Italy will get. Plus, you know that Guus will have Australia fighting and scrapping until the end. What the hell? I'll take Australia 2-1, with Cahill and Viduka netting for Oz.
Nothing personal, Bella.
Half Time. 0-0. Exciting match - definitely not the boring variety of 0-0. Several good chances by each team, with Schwartzer for Australia making 3 or 4 outstanding saves. This feels like a game that might only have 1 goal in it, and that whoever scores first will make it stand up. The referee is doing a good job as well; nice to watch a match that is not a cavalcade of cards.
50th min.: So much for the card free match. Materrazzi sent off, and rather harshly I must say. I can't really see how that tackle is anything more than a yellow card. Another in a neverending series of questionable referee decisions. Italy will play the last 40 minutes with 10 men.
55th min.: Lippi takes off Luca Toni and puts on a defender. Looks like Italy will be defending their goal and playing for penalties, hoping maybe to nick a goal on the counterattack.
Italy 1-0 Australia.
An utter and complete joke. 0-0 after 90 minutes, there were to be 3 minutes of extra time. At 92.45, Italian player Grosso made a complete meal of some contact in the box, dived, and conned the referee into deciding the match. The Australian defender has already gone down and was lying prone on the ground. He did not initiate the contact with the Italian. Rather, the Italian completely conned the referee by falling over the already lying down Aussie and making it look like a foul, when it was a total and complete snow job of a dive. Here: watch for yourself. To make matters worse, Iaquinta runs over as dude is "agonizing" on the ground, leans down on top of him, and alternately talks into his ear and looks at the referee. I don't imagine he was saying "Get up man, you are embarrassing us." Also, why at that point was Grosso clutching his head with both hands when he fell on his belly? Then the rest of the team come over and congratulate him on his brilliant performance. What a fucking sham. Penalty awarded, and Totti buried it with the last kick of the match. A total fucking joke. Of all the referee jokes in this World Cup, that one takes the cake given the situation, timing, etc.
Oh, and memo to Grosso from Cantona: "your dignity will forever remain on the floor."
Grosso celebrates his dive with the judges.
I have tried to temper my feelingas about Italy and be somewhat subjective, but fuck it, let's just get this out into the open: I fucking hate Italy. I hate everything about them, from their invention and constant use of their chickenshit, negative, defensive cattennacio style, to their ceaseless diving and attempting to con the referee, to their utter refusal to ever accept any foul called against them let alone any loss, ever, always instead concocting some conspiracy theory about the referees or FIFA or other nations conspiring to screw them over instead of looking themselves in the mirror or ever manning up and saying "You know what? We lost, we weren't good enough today and we lost - full credit to the other team, they played well." I hate all of it, and I cannot stand Italy, and like every NCAA tournament with Duke, I will not be happy until they are knocked out.
If you are an Italy fan then I apologize for my shortminded attitude, but might as well put it out there for full disclosure.
Sorry, Sheila. You got screwed, and not in the fun way either.
Yes, Australia didn't do much with their man advantage for 40 minutes, and they should have created more chances and made a goal, but it was always going to be difficult with all 9 Italian outfield players behind the ball. But that doesn't mean that they deserved to get fucked so hard either, and without any foreplay either. Anyhow, Italy are through to the quarterfinals where they will face the winner of Switzerland-Ukraine, where I hope that they lose 0-18.
***Update 9.15 p.m. PST***
I have calmed down a bit and in all fairness want to say a few things, although I have not changed my opinion about the penalty even though Bobbeh McMahon, the commentator who I most respect, completely disagrees with me. Nor do I retract any of my statements above about Grosso or Italy.
1) As I said when it happened, Italy should not have been reduced to 10 men in the first place. That foul was either just a foul or a yellow, but no way it was a red. Most of the contact was made on fellow Italian defender not even on the Aussie attacker. Anyhow, they were hard done by to have to play the last 40 minutes a man down.
2)In the 2nd half, Italy did what Italy do best; defend. Australia were up a man in the 2nd half but didn't create nearly as many good chances as they did in the 1st half when the teams were level. So full credit to them for defending for 43 minutes when down a man.
3) To be fair, although they played 9 men behind the ball for most of the 2nd half, they did create some chances themselves. And as Bobbeh pointed out, the key moment of the game happened when an overlapping left back got into the penalty area at the end, so credit must be given for that specifically by all us cattenacio-bashers.
4) It is too much to say that Australia got what they deserved, but with a man advantage for much of the 2nd half they really didn't do shit with it, and Hiddink only made one substitution in the 81st minute. What was he waiting for? My point is that they could have done more to press forward and create a goal despite the fact that Italy were bunkered in.
5) Lucas Neill was a bit foolish to go to ground in the first place.
Having said all that I still think that the penalty was total and complete rubbish, but to be fair these things should be said in Italy's defense. I think one's reaction to this has everything to do with their overall attitude towards Italy. I am predisposed to dislike Italy, so of course I see the penalty as rubbish, whereas an Italy fan, like say A7, would view the same thing and see it as a penalty. All depends on your predisposition I suppose. In fact, A7, what do you make of all of this?
The bottom line is that it is a shame that this match was not decided by the teams on the field, but rather by the referee.
Lastly, unless these are totally watered down by FIFA, I want to point out the pure class shown by the Australian coach and players in defeat in their statements. This shows by contrast one of my main problems with Italy: if things had been reversed, and Italy had been eliminated by a last minute dodgy-at-best penalty, what would the Italians be saying? Exactly. We all remember the uproar/sour grapes theory that Sweden and Denmark conspired to draw in Euro2004 and eliminate Italy, and in the 2002 World Cup after being knocked out by an Ahn Junj-hwan extra time goal, he was summarily fired by the Italian club that he played for at the time, and also told by the mayor of that club's town that he was never welcome to set foot in that town again (from memory - too lazy to source right now). Just to name two. Anyhow, full credit to the Aussies for being much classier than I was.
That being said, Go Ukraine!
Switzerland lost centreback Senderos to a dislocated shoulder, but his replacement is another young Arsenal defender Johan Djourou. He's not as polished as Senderos, but fully capable and I think he'll do just fine. Switzerland are a really good team that have no star and play as a team. Their defense is very solid; they have yet to concede a goal through 3 matches. Ukraine on the other hand have not looked very good at all, except for a breather game against Saudi Arabia. They were fortunate to get through against an average Tunisia team thanks to two huge (and wrong) referee decisions that went their way. They are also missing some defenders due to cards and injuries. If they don't sort themselves out and play the kind of football that they are capable of, and if Sheva doesn't step up and have a Golden Boot candidate performance, they will go down to the Swiss. I'll take Switzerland 1-0.
Damnit! I am DEFINITELY going to South Africa 2010.
20th min.: Sheva appeals for a penalty, looked pretty 50/50 as it looked like there was contact but also that he went down too easily.
22nd min.: Ukraine hit the Swiss crossbar.
24th min.: Beautiful screaming Swiss free kick rattles off the Ukraine crossbar. Match is high spirited and fairly even at this point.
35th min.: Djourou is replaced; I can only assume that he picked up some sort of injury.
Half Time. 0-0. The last 20 minutes saw some hard tackles on both sides, and emotions have cranked up a notch. Like this morning's match, this one looks like it might only have 1 goal in it and that the team to score first will end up winning 1-0. I'm off to the pub to have lunch and find out.
Full Time. 0-0. This referee is the Bizarro World Cup 2006 ref, giving only 1 yellow card and ignoring several cardable offenses (and no less than 4 handballs). Sepp and Beckenbauer are there; it would not suprise me in the least if Sepp went to the referee before the match and told him to swallow his whistle, because the officiating in this cup was already a complete joke before this morning's match and it's absolute farce of an ending. Swiss defender Barretta was especially lucky, having the lone yellow of the match, not to be sent off for a studs up tackle to a Ukranian dude's shin. It surely should have been a 2nd yellow; that is the kind of tackle that breaks legs.
This match has 0-0 and penalties written all over it.
End 1st extra period. 0-0.
End 2nd extra period. 0-0. For the first time in this World Cup it's on to "the lottery of the shootout" as the Brits say.
Sheva shoots left and it is saved. I wonder if Sheva had memories of last year's Champions League Final horrid penalty in his head.
Streller weak shot is saved. still 0-0.
Ukraine scores on the cheeky chip down the middle. 1-0 Ukraine.
Swiss guy blasts it off the bar. Advantage Ukraine: 1-0 after 2 rounds.
Ukraine scores. 2-0 up, and Switzerland pretty much have to convert this 3rd kick.
Another shit Swiss kick right at the keeper. To use a golf term, Ukraine are dormi.
GOL! Ukraine. Ukraine win the shootout 3-0 after only 3.5 rounds of kicks. Not a very exciting penalty shootout.
Congratulations to Ukraine, the only 2nd seeded team out of the first 6 matches to beat a group winner.
You jokers better beat Italy.
Switzerland played well in this tournament for such a young team, and they did not concede a single goal in 4 matches and 2 extra periods. As co-hosts of Euro2008, they are going to be a tough out, and if they can find some offense, other than Frei and Senderos on set pieces, in the next two years then they are going to be a really tough out.
Get some rest, love. You'll need it.
And Ukraine? Like the Swiss today, they looked tired, like a team who, having to play their first match later than everyone else, has had to play 4 matches in 13 days. They really need the three days off between now and Friday, which will be 5 matches in 17 days (Italy played their first match 2 days before Ukraine, so they have played 4 matches in 15 days and Friday will be their 5th in 19 days, for what it's worth).