And I thought the national Italian soccer team would easily pass to the second round of World Cup Finals. How wrong was I!
From reigning world champions, four years later, Italy has left South Africa ashamed and embarrassed after a final defeat in Group F against Slovakia: 2-3.
In that last game, the Italians only seemed to wake up and even attempt to win in the last ten minutes. Real pressure on the Slovakia goal area happened at the very end. Some problems could be explained because there were a couple key players like the goalie, Buffon, and midfielder, Pirlo, who could not play at all or only for a short time due to injuries. Maybe the coach, Lippi, made a mistake in his original invitations of who should play at these events. For example, Casson, a brilliant young striker was not invited to participate on the national team. He possibly could have scored that much-needed goal that might have tied the game and allowed Italy to move on to the next round. In the end for the Italians, there was a general lackadaisical approach to playing soccer, while the other teams couldn't wait to beat Italy. And they did.
That Thursday match, on June 24, witnessed most of Italy at a standstill. Businesses were all but closed. Everyone was in front of a TV monitor. My neighbors had a party with the husband's friends, all home from work and in the back yard even though it was 4 p.m.
As a funny anecdote, I had to call the phone company that day about a recent bill. Since I called them during the game, I was connected to an operator immediately! This had never happened while living in Italy. I always have to wait at least 5 minutes to talk to someone. Obviously that day, I was benefiting from the fact that the entire country was glued to their TV and not thinking about mundane things like phone service.
Anyway, World Cup dreams have crashed to a depressing end. Italy's head coach, Lippi is getting hassled by reporters back in Italy while trying to be on vacation after the defeat. Italians were now rooting for Ghana, until they were defeated yesterday by Uruguay. Holland is really kicking butt, even beating Brazil. All the usually big players are basically out of the World Cup scene at this point, save Germany. Who will win this 2010 edition? We're coming down the home stretch. Finals are on July 11th. Stay tuned, but alas without Italian players on the field.