Today, in the 7th of 16 blogs, I will look at the favorites to win in it all in Italy. The Italians will kick of their campaign on June 9.
On June 9, Italy will take on the Netherlands at the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf. This match is one of the biggest, if not the biggest for a few simple reasons. One of these two teams are ultimately going to receive momentum in the form of a win or draw. Depending how a game is drawn, different teams are going to gain momentum, and I feel this will be the case in this match between these two teams. If Italy go up 1-0, and then they give up a late goal, the Dutch will have momentum on their side. But no matter what happens, the two teams are still going to have to play well against the Romainians and the French.
Strength- Among many strengths, the Italians have found success due to the fact that almost every man plays in Italy. Only 4 of the current squad play their football outside of Italy, and this one of the biggest advantages a team can have. The team's chemistry is as strong as any I've ever seen. When I watch this team, I always draw their play back to the old "Clockwork Orange", Dutch, Total Football sides from the 70's. The reason that those two sides had and have success is simple, they know one another and almost all of their club teams play the same style of football. The Italians always seem to know where each other are and they can pick a pass from a mile away (Pirlo mostly). Another great thing that the "in-house" football creates is great depth for a team. The Italians are deeper than any team I've ever seen. When you have men like Alessandro Del Piero coming off the bench, you know you have a big advantage. If players are injured or not playing well, the Italians can just throw guys in there and change roles so that they can go about their play as usual. With all of this as an advantage, the team is very strong and I think are easily the favorite to win it all.
Weakness- You know, I really don't see a whole lot of weakness on this side. But the one thing that is necessarily a weakness, but just ticks other teams off, it's Marco Materazzi. I think as long as Materazzi doesn't make people mad, they should be fine. But if Materazzi goes about running his mouth, and pumping teams up, they are in trouble. This really isn't a weakness, but it could fall under that category.
Player to Watch- Oh my, they have so many greats that I'm not even sure about it. But after thinking about it, I have to go with Andrea Pirlo. The Italian central midfielder is one of the best crossers of the ball in the world from the middle of the field. If you give up a free kick that looks like it is out of the strike zone, you aren't out of the water just yet. Pirlo has made the likes of Inzaghi, Maldini, and Del Piero look good. With his precision corners, he is probably the best all-around player in the tourney. And if you decide to hurt him or try, then you're going to have to mess with "The Pitbull" Gennaro Gattuso.
Prediction- In a very tough Group C, the Italians will roll through and finish first and will meet the surprise team that will be revealed at a later date.
Once again, thanks. Tomorrow, I'll look at Holland. Until next time, it's been Keeper and I'm out.