Straight from the dark heart of Italy
What can be gleaned from the ‘Derby of the World’ is that, at present, Brazil are in better shape than Italy.
The South Americans played as one would expect them to. And so, to be fair, did Italy who were their usual sluggish selves when there is nothing on the line – and granting Marcelo Lippi the world record of going 32 games undefeated at international level clearly didn't count for much.
As Lippi pointed out recently, what good is going on an unbeaten run when you don’t win the World Cup at the end of it? The Azzurri look set for South Africa and that's still a good 16 months away.
Nevertheless, there are concerns about Lippi's over-reliance on his heroes of 2006. And top of the worry-heap is the question of whether skipper Fabio Cannavaro will last long enough to board the flight to South Africa.
Now the oldest player in the squad by quite some distance – he will be on the cusp of 37 next summer – the formerly invincible Cannavaro had to be carried by Nicola Legrottaglie (hardly the paragon of security) on a number of occasions at the Emirates.
Cannavaro would never have been described as a ball-playing defender, but where previously he could rely on his pace to get him out of trouble, that asset has deserted him once and for all.
Lippi won’t cast his hero of 2006 adrift, but it is imperative that the speedy Giorgio Chiellini is kept off the treatment table and the same goes for the cool-headed Alessandro Gamberini of Fiorentina.
Andrea Pirlo is another who seems past his use-by date and the centre of midfield should now be left in the hands of the two Romans, Daniele de Rossi and Alberto Aquilani.
Up top, Luca Toni seems to have reached the limit of his talents, so maybe it’s time that Amauri was given a push in the direction of Italy rather than Brazil.
Fabio, Andrea and Luca: Past their use-by dates?
But it’s not all doom and gloom: Giuseppe Rossi looks the real deal with each passing appearance in the blue shirt.
Quick feet, blistering acceleration and a goalscorer’s instinct, his short, compact stature brings to mind Salvatore Schillaci... and we all know what the little Sicilian did on the world stage.
The little man from Villarreal will get plenty more experience through the rest of the qualifying campaign and should finally end any argument concerning Alessandro Del Piero’s return to the fold.
In the meantime, Italy can have another go at trying to outsmart Brazil on June 21 when the sides meet in the Confederations Cup. And Lippi can spend his every waking hour trying to work out how to move on from 2006.
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This 'Lippi's great 31 unbeaten run with Italy' talk is a load of old malarky.
Firstly, that run of unbeaten games is two batches of games unbeaten stuck together
Secondly, a massive 13 of those 31 games have been draws.
Now, if you want to bemuse in wonderment at a real awe-inspiring run of undefeated games, look no further than Spain, who are unbeaten in 29, in which 26 have been wins and 3 - yes only 3 - have been draws.
Quite a bit better I think.
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