U.S. World Cup Soccer Re-Match Today Against Italy
The only bright spot for the United States at an otherwise dismal 2006 World Cup was a 1-1 tie with Italy. The Americans exited following the first round. Italy, known as the Azzurri for their royal blue jerseys, went on to win every other match and take the title for the fourth time.
United States and Italy soccer meet again today at 2:25 p.m. (EST) in Pretoria, South Africa, in their opener at the Confederations Cup, a warm-up for next year's World Cup in South Africa.
"Italy is going to be favored," U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "The pressure will be on them, and we want to go out there and show that we can play with them and get a good result."
In fact, Italy has not lsot to the United States in competive soccer in any venue for 75 years.
Coming at the midpoint of the final round of World Cup qualifying, the eight-nation Confederations Cup is a challenge for the United States. After playing the Azzurri, the Americans face South American champion Brazil on Thursday and African champion Egypt on Sunday.
"This is the most important match," said Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who quit after the World Cup, then replaced Roberto Donadoni following last year's European Championship. "We've got to beat the United States because if the first game goes well, then so will the following games. Whereas if it goes badly, it will be tougher for us to recover."
Lippi's starting lineup most likely will contain nine members of the World Cup team. Among them is midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who bloodied the face of U.S. forward Brian McBride with his elbow in the lasting image of that game at Kaiserslautern in 2006. De Rossi drew a four-game ban, ruling him out for most of the World Cup. The intensely physical game ended with only 19 men on the field -- 10 for Italy, nine for the United States.
"That match was a very memorable match to be a part of," U.S. forward Landon Donovan said. "I think all the players and people in the stadium will never forget it. This will be a different game, but Italy is a team we know well. There won't be any surprises."
The U.S. will be missing four injured players who didn't make the trip: defenders Steve Cherundolo and Frankie Hejduk, midfielder Maurice Edu and forward Brian Ching. Bocanegra is nicked up and could be replaced by Jay DeMerit.
Labels: Azzurri, italy, Italy v. US. soccer, US Soccer, World Cup