Well, this is gonna be interesting. It’s the one game in which Precious Roy doesn’t know for whom to root.
It’s Italy and New Zealand. The Azurri and the All-Whites. And oh, in case you forgot, that’s the Italians who are tied with the Kiwis in the group standings. In fact, this in which everyone has a point and everyone has a goal.
In the first matches, the Italians underperformed against Paraguay and really didn’t deserve their draw. On the other hand, New Zealand overperformed and earned the first point in the country’s history with a late equalizer against Slovakia.
Trying to figure out what will happen is, to quote Mrs. Mia Wallace, an exercise in futility. So sit back, fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.
Lineups and liveblog fun to come. Until then, enjoy the space.
Nothing like losing internet 15 minutes before a match, but I’m here! Anthems!!!
Italy: 12-Federico Marchetti 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 4-Giorgio Chiellini, 3-Domenico Criscito, 22-Riccardo Montolivo, 6-Daniele De Rossi, 15-Claudio Marchisio, 9-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 7-Simone Pepe, 11-Alberto Gilardino.
New Zealand: 1-Mark Paston; 4-Winston Reid, 6-Ryan Nelsen, 5-Ivan Vicelich, 19-Tommy Smith, 3-Tony Lochhead, 11-Leo Bertos, 7-Simon Elliot, 10-Chris Killen, 14-Rory Fallon, 9-Shane Smeltz.
Referee: Carlos Batres (Guatemala).
Pregame: I’m still very interested to see if the Kiwis play for the result here or try to do something shocking.
1st minute: HERE WE GO!!
1st minute: New Zealand play a long ball that is just out of reach of Fallon. Nice start, but the italians come right back. And look! Sepp is in the house.
3rd minute: First foul of the match goes to the Kiwis as Criscito decides to take a runner out.
4th minute: Our first offside call. Good call, too.
5th minute: Fallon catches Zambrotta with an arm, and the latter goes down like he’s been shot. Then again, that does hurt. I’m just searching for the first dive and so far this match has a lot of effort and a lot of good vibes but not much in the way of results.
7th minute: GOALLLLLLL!!!!!!! A great ball on a long free kick just floats over the Italian defense. It hits Cannavarro and Smeltz pokes it home. WOW. 0-1 New Zealand!
8th minute: That’s amazing that Italy now have given up two goals on set pieces. Cannavaro could have done better, but it was just nice follow from Smeltz.
9th minute: Italy immediately tests Paston with a free kick that almost ends up the same way as the goal, but the Kiwi keeper does well.
10th minute: Is it offside? Was Smeltz off when the initial kick was taken because the final touch was from Italy, not a Kiwi. Meanwhile, the play is pretty end-to-end. This is fun stuff, even if it’s not leading to a lot of pretty movement.
13th minute: The way things are going, I can’t write one move and long ball play before the ball is lost and the same thing happens the other way. This really is a fast pace.
14th minute: Believe me, Teeknuts, you don’t want to be on NYK’s list.
15th minute: YELLOW CARD for Fallon for another heavy foul. Deserved.
16th minute: How is Ally McCoist just realizing that the ball Cannavaro and that played Smeltz onside. Idiot.
17th minute: Half chance for Italy as the ball swings to Chiellini, but he pops it over it over the bar.
18th minute: Nice long, fast run from Bertos (not to be confused with Bretos), but a heavy touch at the end.
19th minute: Somewhere, Roberto Martinez is patting himself on the back for calling that Italy are not good. So far, they aren’t showing me a ton. Again.
20th minute: Cannavaro gets an elbow in the chest this time. Damn that guy gets hit a lot.
21st minute: Zambrotta with the cross, but Iaquinta called for a foul and it goes to waste. Again. This looks a lot like they did against Paraguay. I guess the question is whether they’ll get a gifted equalizer. And yes, I’m shocked to write this.
22nd minute: Zambrotta with a nice shot from about 30 yards. It just floats high over the top left corner. Nice shot, but nothing to show for it.
24th minute: My daughter just said, “how do these guys get hurt so much?” As Chiellini goes down in a heap with a half-dive. Vlade Divac approves of this.
25th minute: Ball into Pepe in the box, but New Zealand do well to mostly clear it. Nice ball in toward Iaquinta but the Kiwi Keeper (permanent nickname) does well to punch it away.
26th minute: Italy are starting to puh forward more, but the Kiwis are well organized. And they do well on the break.
27th minute: CHANCE!!! Montolivo hits an absolute screamer from about 35 yards and clangs the inside of the post. The Kiwi Keeper never saw it until he heard the post. Wow. Very lucky New Zealand on that. Very unlucky Montolivo.
28th minute: PENALTY!!! Yes, his shirt was pulled, but boy that was close to a dive. Iaquinta steps up to take it and puts it away. 1-1.
29th minute: I want to see the replay of the “foul” again. Di Rossi got a tug on the shirt, but AFTER the tug he went down to draw the penalty. Sorry, Orr (and the rest of the Italy fans), but that’s a dive. A straight up dive. Reason No. 1 why I dislike Italian football.
32nd minute: Italy definitely have the momentum now. Can New Zealand recover to make something of this, or will they try to play 60 minutes for another draw?
34th minute: I just rewound and watched it full speed and the slow-mo replay. It’s a dive. plain and simple. Cheating bastard, De Rossi. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t over-reacting.
37th minute: Sorry, Danilo, but the New Zealand goal was clean. The ball was played off Cannavaro, so Smeltz can’t be offside on that play. That’s the rule. Meanwhile on the pitch, Italy have taken control. The Kiwis are working really hard to chase and might just run themselves out.
38th minute: De Rossi with another free kick earned. I’m hating him more every minute. Italy are under the belief that the dive is part of an offensive strategy. They use it to draw fouls in certain spots on the field. It’s a disgrace considering how talented they really are.
41st minute: New Zealand are still shell-shocked. They aren’t even getting a touch on the ball now. They really need to just survive until halftime and regroup. I doubt this draw will hold.
42nd minute: Cross to Pepe sent over the bar. That’s a recurring theme. Put it wide, Italy cross, nothing good comes from the touch in the box.
44th minute: Italy are controlling the possession, but they still can’t get that great chance. New Zealand can’t get anything going at all now. Three passes are hard to come by for the Kiwis.
45th minute: De Rossi with a great shot from 30 out is well saved by Kiwi Keeper. Two corners to Italy end with nothing. A foul called on Italy.
HALFTIME: 1-1. A disgraceful dive from De Rossi gets the Italians back in the match. New Zealand owner the first 20 minutes of the match, but the penalty changed all the momentum. I’ll be back in 10 for the second half.
HALFTIME: I want to make it clear that I don’t put diving completely on the Italians. Nor do I hate the Italian team. They have tons of talent and can do a lot with it. I would feel this way if the dive/penalty was earned by any team. Diving is the sourge of football.
46th minute: Ally McCoist agrees with commenter Danilo.
47th minute: Subs for Italy. Camoranesi and Di Natale on for Gilardino and Pepe.
48th minute: New Zealand have clearly parked the bus. This will be a whole lot of Italy attacking. Kiwi Keeper with a nice save on Di Natale.
49th minute: Free kick for Italy leads to nothing, but they keep possession. The Kiwis ALMOST get the ball out of their half.
51st minute: Ally McCoist is in the bag for Italy. And Italy with another corner. The people on that side of the stands are going to get their money’s worth this half.
53rd minute: Once again, 15 passes from Italy, New Zealand break it up and barely get it back to the half line.
54th minute: New Zealand have some possession here. Moving it around nicely to give the defense a break. Eventually they lose it, but they killed about 3 minutes with that.
57th minute: Free kick to Italy. The All Whites defend well again. They really are well organized in the back. I know it’s not going to be pretty, but it’s impressive.
60th minute: Pazzini gets ready to come in for Italy. Wow. They wouldn’t have a sub for the final 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Iaquinta tries to make a nice turn in the box but his shot goes harmlessly wide.
61st minute: Marchisio comes off, so Italy are going for it with 29 minutes left. Pretty amazing stuff.
63rd minute: Fallon comes off for Chris Wood. And Fallon takes about 90 seconds to get off the pitch. Heh.
63rd minute: HALF CHANCE. Vicelich with a very nice shot from distance goes just wide.
65th minute: Corner for Italy, I think it’s their 32nd of the match.
66th minute: I should just put this on a save-get — “Italy swings a cross in, the Kiwi Keeper does well to get to it and the All Whites clear”
68th minute: Same again. Then a long ball to Wood, but he’s called for a foul because the defender dives. Sigh.
69th minute: Same again, just off a free kick this time.
70th minute: CHANCE!!! What a shot from Montolivo from distance, but Kiwi Keeper goes full stretch to poke it wide. Amazing save on an excellent shot.
72nd minute: New Zealand build up a little, but give it away and Italy go on the break. It ends with a dangerous cross in the box well cleared by the Kiwis.
Note: For those who are interested, TFA has blogged the France story. Crazy s**t. It’s above this liveblog. Mock the French at your leisure.
74th minute: This game has been full of energy but there really hasn’t been anything very pretty about it.
76th minute: More of the same. Actually, I’m very entertained by this match, but from a liveblog perspective, it’s not the best because there isn’t a lot of really clever work. Just passes in midfield, attempts to move forward and organized defense. Also, Kiwi Keeper is a beast. He’s all over the place. If it ends in a draw, he has to be man of the match.
78th minute: Wow. Iaquinta gets a bouncing ball in the box, but Smith gets a toe in just in time, then on the following corner, Iaquinta gets a great header that’s cleared again. Then ANOTHER good shot just wide. The Kiwis are just holding on now. 12 minutes to go.
80th minute: If Italy could put more of these long shots on frame it would be a different game. But they keep coming close but no cigar. Oh, and did we all notice that the Devil Himself is the fourth official in this match?
82nd minute: Another corner for Italy. I think that’s 149 of them. Again headed wide. Sheesh. Also, the possession stat showed 57-43. I’m shocked it’s that low for Italy.
83rd minute: Just as I think to myself, “NZ might nick one,” Wood makes a great flick turn and puts a shot JUST wide of the post. That was VERY close.
84th minute: Italy are pressing, and New Zealand almost get a counter break. In the end nothing comes of it, but this last few minutes is going to be very interesting. And that shot from Wood was past the keeper. He only missed by about a foot.
85th minute: Another cross, another save from Kiwi Keeper.
86th minute: Nelson, the Kiwi Kaptain, is cramping. They bring on the stretcher and he gets a yellow card for something. Time delay? I can’t tell why. Will he get subbed?
87th minute: The ref had to decide Nelson was wasting time, not injured.
88th minute: ANOTHER great save from Kiwi Keeper. This guy is a wall today. And the Italians’ 275th corner again leads to nothing. You really have to give credit to New Zealand. They are completely outclassed and are defending on pure will for the past 25 minutes or so.
90th minute: How much extra time? ANOTHER block! And four minutes of extra time!
90th+1: People may complain that it’s another draw, but this has been scintillating work from the Kiwis. Italy are pushing with all their might, but they can’t find the goal. Great viewing.
90th+2: Another cross goes begging. I think if this ends 1-1, you have to put it up there as one of the great upsets. Not quite on the level of the Swiss beating Spain, but pretty close. This is Italy after all, and New Zealand aren’t anywhere near this level. Not even close.
90th+4: It looks like we’re going to get a draw. 1-1. And the Kiwis have as many points at the U.S., Italy and England. Who would have guessed?
FULL TIME: It’s over! A shocking draw. The Kiwis have two points and actually have a chance to get out of the group. Truly shocking. They score early on a disputed call, they lose the lead on a disputed call, then they hold on for dear life for 65 minutes. Wow is all I can say.
FULL TIME: I’m not ready to call this the biggest shock. I think it’s very close to the Swiss-Spain match. But it shows how crazy this tournament can be. It also shows that the Italians have some real questions. They never put together a quality attack. Even with all the corners and the shots, they were never truly impressive against a team that they should have run over. Anyway, I’m out. Have a good father’s day, all you fellow dads. And enjoy the French implosion and the Brazil-Ivory Coast liveblog later!
POSTGAME: A little treat for the Kiwi-lovers out there.