12 June, 2006

Forza Italia: Italy 2 Ghana 0

Italy have a comparatively poor record in recent World Cups, but they are always contenders and tough opponents. Ghana, on the other hand, are largely an unknown quantity, playing in the finals for the first time.

The Africans make a good start, coping well with an Italian team playing the way we have come to expect, with tight, fluid passing. Much of the play is in Italy's half but Ghana's final ball is weak and they fail to truly test a defence which looks, at times, uncharacteristically shaky.

After 20 minutes Italy begin to make their presence felt, putting Ghana under pressure. The defence settles down and Luca Toni's shot comes off the underside of the crossbar but spins away from goal. Totti isn't far away with a free kick from 40 yards out.

Andrea Pirlo finally breaks the deadlock after 40 minutes with a long-range shot through a forest of players, and for the remaining minutes of the half both teams seem happy to play it out and avoid any errors.

The second half is less open as the Italians seek to hold onto their lead, but both sides have their chances, with Italy getting the better of the play. Samuel Kuffour is lucky not to receive the red card when, as the last defender, he scythes down Vincenzo Iaquinta from behind, but the linesman's flag is raised for offside, ruling out the offence.

On 83 minutes Iaquinta finishes off the Africans when he rounds the keeper Richard Kingston to leave himself a wide open goal. As the clock runs down there is some unnecessary antagonism but the game is over.

Ghana might count themselves unlucky to lose, but they have been beaten by a classy Italian side. They have plenty to offer, however, and from what we have seen today this group is a tough one to call.


Baz said...

I've not seen all of the games but Pirlo stood out as the best player I've seen yet

Joe Williams said...

My TV is too small to work out how good individual players are, but I would say Italy look like the best team so far.

Other contenders being Czech Republic, Holland and, oddly, Ecuador.

Nik said...

Nonsense - Portugal lost to the US and Korea in 2002 and didn't make it out of their group

Joe Williams said...

I'm sure there's a point he's trying to make somewhere in that.

Baz said...

Fair dos to Essien as well. Never really noticed him for Chelsea (apart from those horror tackles) but he drove through the Iti midfield and defence and utterly terrified them.

Rish said...

Only heard the match on the radio, but from what it sounded like, Essien played better and more effectively in 90 minutes for Ghana than he did in a whole season for Chelski. Could it be something to do with the midfield being built around him (and Appiah), rather than him being shoehorned into the team?

Rish said...

P.S. Joe, didn't Baz agree to buy you a 42" inch HDTV (in lieu of travel expenses) so that you could write these blogs more effectively?

Joe Williams said...

Yes he did but then he made me fill in a 93 page claim form. Still busy with it.


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