Lippi defends Italy’s performance against Brazil

June 22nd, 2009 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Pretoria, June 22 (DPA) Italian coach Marcello Lippi said he was going to stick to his plan, even though the Azzurri were knocked out of the Confederations Cup football by Brazil.
Two goals from Luis Fabiano in the 37th and 43rd minutes and an own goal from Andrea Dossena in the 45th made it a humiliating evening for world champions Italy here Sunday.

Brazil now play South Africa in Johannesburg Thursday, while the United States sensationally finished runners-up in Group B with a 3-0 defeat of Egypt in Rustenburg, and play Spain Wednesday in Bloemfontein.

It was Italy’s biggest defeat to Brazil since a 4-1 loss 33 years ago, and came 39 years to the day they were beaten by the Brazilians by the same scoreline in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico City.

Three successive wins leave Brazil top of the group on nine points, with the US, Italy and Egypt all on three.

“I am definitely sticking to my plan. I am feeling a bit bitter and sad, I know the image of Italy is not what was shown on the field,” Lippi said.

The coach, who has come under criticism for holding on to too many of the players who won the World Cup three years ago, aggressively defended his team selection.

“You have seen the best players here on the pitch. These are the best players Italy has and I am not changing them,” he said defiantly.

He also dismissed calls to introduce more younger players. “I have many young players, somebody like Giuseppe Rossi played in all three matches.

“You do not simply throw young players into these matches. Young players have to be introduced gradually. They have to be groomed slowly,” he said.

A near capacity crowd of 41,200 in the Loftus Versfeld Stadium saw Lippi’s side - the oldest in the tournament - disintegrate in the first half.

Veteran captain Fabio Cannavaro, making his 126th appearance to equal the national record set by the recently retired Paolo Maldini, had a first half he will want to forget.

A slip by the defender as early as the seventh minute allowed Luis Fabiano to bear down on the area before the striker slipped a pass to Ramires, whose shot hit the outside of the upright.

The Italians looked shaky at the back, and after several moments of danger in their own area, Brazil again hit the post when a Lucio cross was deflected by Daniel de Rossi onto the upright.

But four minutes later, the Brazilians took the lead they deserved when a mis-hit shot from Maicon found its way to Luis Fabiano. The Italians appealed for offside but Cannavaro was too slow coming out and the Sevilla striker turned to beat Buffon.

A second followed six minutes later when Robinho fed Kaka, whose return pass across goal was missed by the sliding de Rossi and Luis Fabiano was on hand to clip the ball over Buffon.

The half ended disastrously for the Azzurri when two minutes later Robinho broke clear from his own half and squared to Ramires. In attempting to block the pass Andrea Dossena turned the ball into his own net.

Despite the scoreline, the Italians knew they still had everything to play for and there was far more purpose in their play after the break as they sought the goal that might have been enough.

Substitutes Rossi and Alberto Gilardino and Andrea Pirlo all tried their luck with shots, while Simone Pepe had a shot blocked but it was Brazil who still looked nearer scoring, and Kaka went close with a hot wide.

De Rossi flashed a shot wide as the game ran into stoppage time, and Dossena blasted over in what was the last chance in a sorry night for the Azzurri.

But while the Italians left the field forlorn, Brazilian players celebrated and their coach Dunga said the victory over the world champions was special.

“I always told my players they have to be concentrated. We managed to beat the world champions, but it does not come as a surprise as we prepared well and did our work.”

He said he did not believe the Brazilian team was beyond developing. “When I took on this team, we only had a very few players had played in the World Cup.

“We have a lot to do before we are perfect, but the more we play together, the more we can grow. I think we are on the right track.”

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