Brazil And Italy Conjure Up A Majestic Contest

21 03 2013

It might be nine games and 16 months since Italy last won a friendly but Cesare Prandelli will be proud of the spirit the Azzurri showed to turn a two goal deficit into a draw against the much fancied Brazil.

Italy are notorious for their nonchalant attitude towards friendlies, an opportunity to test new players and tactics but no reason to arduously seek a good result, but this performance will put them in good stead for their World Cup qualifier against Malta next week.

In these non-competitive games we have become accustomed to witnessing dour contests lacking both intensity and personality, however the match in Geneva showcased two teams with World Cup winning ambitions, and both will gain confidence from proceedings.

Mario Balotelli and Neymar exchange shirts after the friendly in Switzerland.

Mario Balotelli and Neymar exchange shirts after the friendly in Switzerland.

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Serbia’s World Cup Dream Is Over

14 07 2010

The feeling of déjà vu will be the predominant thought of the Serbian supporters after disappointment once more in an international tournament. Four years ago they entered the World Cup with hope, yet fell once they reached the finals, but it looked as if this time around they would progress from the group stage. After a dire performance against Ghana in their 1-0 defeat in the opening game – in what seemed a must-win match if they were to progress – they needed to really lift themselves to defeat a German side who looked very sharp in their comfortable first match victory. Serbia showed spirit, determination and regained the spark which they had during qualification. So going into the final fixture against Australia, who were sitting at the bottom of Group D, Serbia knew they would be the makers of their own destiny.

Radomir Antic admitted that he would contemplate changes if his team were to gain anything from the remaining games, and he adopted a 4-3-3 formation knowing he needed to stifle the opponents. Zdravko Kuzmanovic was promoted into the starting line-up with a specific defensive job, although they were hoping he wouldn’t give away a foolish penalty again. Aleksandar Lukovic was back in his role alongside Nemanja Vidic in the heart of defence after his red card in the first game. But perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Ivan Obradovic on the left side of defence, although the regular Aleksandar Kolarov was a yellow away from a suspension which may have crossed his Coach’s mind, although in hindsight was not the best of choices.

Serbia And Antic's World Cup Are Finished

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Serbia’s World Cup Dream Is Alive After Shock Win

19 06 2010

It seemed like it would be a case of déjà vu for the Serbian supporters. Four years ago they entered the World Cup with hope, yet fell greatly once they reached the finals, and it looked as if they would once more fall at the group stage. After a dire performance against Ghana in their 1-0 defeat last Sunday; in what seemed a must win game if they were to progress, they needed to really lift themselves if they were to defeat a German side who looked very sharp in their comfortable 4-0 group opener. Serbia showed spirit, determination and regained the spark which they had during qualification, and also had a helping hand from the referee.

Radomir Antić admitted before the match that he would contemplate changes if his team were to gain anything from the next two games, and he was true to his word. He adopted a 4-3-3 formation knowing he needed to stifle the German midfield that had Mesut Özil playing in ‘the hole’, so Zdravko Kuzmanović was promoted into the starting line-up with a specific defensive job, although they were hoping he wouldn’t give away a foolish penalty again. Neven Subotić was given the role to play alongside Nemanja Vidić in the heart of defence, after his usual partner Aleksandar Luković was suspended after his red card last-week. The mentality of the team was to play defensive, slow the tempo of the game and to absorb the Germans who would attack in numbers, then to hit them on the counter-attack with the pace of Milan Jovanović and Miloš Krasić on the wings. After such a weak performance in the centre of midfield in the first game, Miloš Ninković was asked to play alongside his captain and the tactics that Radomir Antić adopted were perfect.

Jovanovic With The Key Goal Against Germany

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No Repeat Of Last Week’s Blip If Serbia Are To Progress

16 06 2010

So far in the 2010 FIFA World Cup a high proportion of the games have been defensive and tedious encounters. However, last Sunday the Germans 4-0 victory over the 10-men of Australia caught the eye of football fans, and they are now being tipped as likely winners. On Friday they face a Serbian team who will need to show the right response if they are to progress from Group D. A poor display against Ghana saw the White Eagles lose their opening game 1-0, which has brought back horror memories to their fans of four years ago. At least a point is needed if they are to have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout round, and they will need to raise their game to achieve this feat.

Firstly, the confidence needs to be reinstated in the players, and the person responsible for doing this will be Radomir Antic. With five days of preparation, the highly respected coach has a tough job on his hands if he is to prevent the Germans from running rampant. After last weekend’s game, he did what he could to quickly encourage his players to forget about their opening match and look ahead. “Of course this is a big blow for us, it’s bad to start the World Cup with a defeat. But we have two more games and we must put this behind us and look forward to playing Germany and Australia.”

Serbia's Likely Starting 11 in South Africa

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Disappointing Performance From Serbia Who Never Got Going

13 06 2010

Serbia’s World Cup campaign has started in the worst possible way after a disappointing defeat in Pretoria this afternoon. With high expectations going into their clash against Ghana, the Serbians never seemed to turn up and were quite fortunate to come away with only a 1-0 defeat. An 84th minute penalty by Asamoah Gyan was enough to defeat the 10 men of Serbia, who will need to sharpen up if they are to reach the knockout rounds. The overall performance from the team will have left Coach Radomir Antić in disarray and he will have a lot to work on before their second game.

The game was billed as an interesting affair, with the two sides looking the more likely to battle for that final qualification spot in the group. Serbia started off the brightest and looked as if they stamped a mark of intent in the game with Marko Pantelić having an ambitious shot only 30 seconds in. The first-half was played at a fast tempo, but both teams failed to cause any problems. The main route of play from the teams was through their wingers, and it seemed as if Serbia’s main chance to cause damage was to hurt Ghana with the rapid pace of Milan Jovanović and Miloš Krasić. However as the half wore on both failed to make any real impact, with Krasić’s touch letting him down on a couple of occasions. It was not until the 39th minute before either keeper was troubled, with Serbia captain Dejan Stanković shooting from long-range, but it was straight at Richard Kingson. Going into the interval Serbia would have perhaps been the happier of the sides, with Ghana controlling the game yet unable to capitalise.

Zdravko Kuzmanović Is In Despair After Giving Away A Penalty

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Players Mental State Needs To Be Watched By Antić

11 06 2010

After a calamitous few weeks in which pre-optimism amongst the nation has taken a dent, victory last Sunday over Cameroon has reinstated belief back into those feeble fans. Radomir Antić knew that the final warm-up match was important as it could instil rhythm and morale back into the players before the first match of their group, against Ghana on Sunday. With a tough group ahead of them, the Serbians will know that the unity amongst the camp needs to be solid if they are to progress.

In a farewell match in Belgrade, Serbia showed their attacking prowess, justifying the media’s claims that they could be the team to watch. Although they showed defensive frailties, the way in which they responded to going behind twice in the game showed the mental toughness they have which can be significant in defeating your opponent. After falling behind to a fourth minute goal from Pierre Webó, Antić‘s men showed they can score scrappy goals as well. Ivan Obradović roamed down the left flank, slid a deadly low cross into the box which the goalkeeper pushed into the feet of Miloš Krasić who tucked away a rare goal. Again they fell behind courtesy of Webo’s second, but conjured up a lovely move in which Krasić set up his captain Dejan Stanković with a delightful back heel who then happily smashed it in from outside the box. Nenad Milijaš converted a penalty and Marko Pantelić scored from close range before half time to complete their victory.

Miloš Krasić Will Be Hoping He Can Score More Goals

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The Old Enemy’s Efficient Style Puts Them In Contention

8 06 2010

It seems to be a continual trend, never right off the Germans. Consistently our foes show us how to utilise the best of their abilities, and after being world champions on three occasions, this time they could yet again be among the finalists. After a decent performance on home soil in the 2006 World Cup, not many changes needed to be incorporated. Already a team consisting of young superstars such as Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the most notable change was in the managerial department, where Joachim Löw has been instated after being the assistant manager. After being runners-up in the 2008 European Championships, the coach will be hoping they can go one better this summer.

A noticeable characteristic of the German squad is that they are very young. Indeed out of the 23-men selected, only two surpass the age of 30 – reserve keeper Hans-Jörg Butt and Miroslav Klose. Löw has tried to nurture some of the players who performed so successfully in last summer’s U-21 European Championships, in which they won after a convincing 4-0 trouncing of England, with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Dennis Aogo, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil all competing in the final. The mixture between youth and experience is usually the chemistry for success, and if they can get the formula correct, there could be little to prevail over them.

Mesut Özil Shall Be Key For Germany

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