Matchday Musings: Spain 0-0 Italy (7-6 pen.)
A Rough Start for Italy
An early look at the line-ups for both teams, Spain would seem to have it in the bag with key players on the sidelines including Balotelli. Super Mario Balotelli has been Italy’s lifeline during the group stage, saving them from loses against Mexico and Japan. Andrea Pirlo is, however, starting today boosting the strength in the midfield. The first half consisted of a typical dominance of Spanish possession taking many shots on goal to test the waters in the box against Buffon. Torres saw the ends of many brilliant crosses in, but came up short, skimming past the posts. His five goal tally in during the group stage earned him the starting striker position today against Italy.
A Change to the Pace of Play
Italy are now gaining momentum at the end of a scoreless first half, almost switching roles with Spain as they gain dominance in possession as well as shots on goal. A tremendous amount of shots against the Madrid keeper Casillas, ended up just wide of the post of on target with the post. Danielle De Rossi, joining the ranks again, accounts for a lot of Italy’s 15 total shots, 6 of which were in the first twenty minutes alone. 0-0 at the half and neither team is willing to budge, hoping for a chance to face Brazil in the final Confederations Cup match.
A Stalemate at It’s Best
The second half is underway and it is already noticeable Italy are playing more aggressively in hopes for a win. De Rossi managed to pick up a yellow card in the 65th minute in hopes to turn the ball around for a counter-attack. The second half ended almost as a mirror image of the first leaving the game scoreless at 0-0 after the ninety minutes. Since this is a semi-final cup match, the game will not finish as a one point draw to each team. Instead we head to overtime for two 15 minute half’s. Should the score remain scoreless, everyone’s favorite match decider comes, penalty kicks.
Overtime in Fortaleza, Brazil
It has come down to the final decider of the match, penalty kicks. Are these teams to evenly matched? Had Balotelli not picked up an injury, would the Italians be victorious over the World Champion Spanish team? It’s almost impossible to tell as anything could happen in the football world. Both Italy and Spain are determined to play Brazil in their home country to gain glory, but can not walk away so easily. Besides a yellow card shown to Spanish centre back Gerard Pique, it remains 0-0 yet again at the end of 120 total minutes played.
The Final Showdown
A scoreless first and second half in regulation leading to overtime ending in a solid stalemate, the game is turned to individual penalty kicks for each team to determine a winner. The Italian shooters are as followed: Candreva, Aquilani, De Rossi, Giovinco, Pirlo, Montolivo, Bonucci. Spain: Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Ramos, Mata, Busquets, Navas. A perfect succession of goal after goal starting with Italy until Bonucci sent his shot soaring over the crossbar leaving the game in Spain’s hands. The recently acquired City player, Jesus Navas, has the opportunity to win the whole game and he does it. A calm and clean penalty shot by Navas settled the everlasting international game between Spain and Italy. Italy will face Brazil to determine the winners of the COnfederations Cup and Italy will face Uruguay to determine the third and fourth place spots.