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Brazil through; Italy draw again; Adebayor off the hook

June 21, 2010

Lippi has work to do for Italy to progress -

A draw with Paraguay was not wholly unexpected; a draw with New Zealand certainly was. Italy find themselves in the same situation as England – needing (most likely) to win their final game against a team beginning with ‘Slov’ and ending in ‘ia’ in order to progress to the knockout rounds.

They looked good in part against their South American opponents last week, but lacked quality in the final third. Nevertheless, drawing to New Zealand was a surprise.

Yesterday’s opponents were a pleasure to watch in their well-deserved draw against Slovakia, and now face a tough final game against Paraguay (who need just a draw to progress themselves following a 2-0 win over Slovakia at lunchtime).

With Italy and England struggling, one wonders if the Italians will take it upon themselves to have a ‘clear-the-air meeting’, or even take things further like the French and refuse to train in protest at perceived incompetence in their football association above them. Perhaps they have too much respect for manager Marcello Lippi to do such a thing.

The BBC astoundingly discussed recent developments in the French camp in the presence of Emmanuel Adebayor, various pundits declaring they’d never seen anything like it. What about Adebayor’s Togo team threatening to strike in the 2006 competition due to a pay dispute with the Togolese FA? Why not ask him about it? Instead they assured viewers that such discontent within a group of players was unprecedented, when one man capable of providing some context or even an insight into why players would jeopardise their chances in the greatest international tournament in the world was not asked to do so. Anyone would think pundits were just employed to pick up a wage slip, enjoy a trip to South Africa, and agree with everything their colleagues say.

The Brazilians are incredulous as Kaka gets sent off - BBC

Meanwhile the match covered while this discussion was developing was Brazil v Ivory Coast, a match involving some excellent football and a couple of contentious decisions. Kaka was sent off for a second yellow card following a block/elbow into the chest of Kader Keita. The angle repeatedly shown left it unclear just how much force the Brazilian put into the movement; what was clear was Keita falling to the ground, holding his face, when he hadn’t been hit there. The referee, it transpired, was not looking at the incident, rightly following the ball at the time. He did not appear to consult one of his assistants. How the officials reached the decision is, therefore, a mystery. If they’d seen an elbow in the face, it should have been a straight red. If they hadn’t seen it, it should have been nothing (and perhaps nothing, given the lack of clarity afforded by the replay, even if they had).

Prior to this the referee’s judgement was called into question following Brazil’s second goal – Luis Fabiano appeared to handle twice in the build up. The first looked accidental and thus not a foul but the second more deliberate. Either way Brazil deserved to win, but in a group in which goal difference may prove decisive in determining second-place it could be important.

Today’s predictions:

Portugal 2 North Korea 0
Chile 1 Switzerland 0
Spain 4 Honduras 0

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