Clint Dempsey fired
the United States to a 1-0 friendly win over Italy on Wednesday
to leave the Azzurri's Euro 2012 plans in further disarray.
He netted 10 minutes into the second half after good work
from Jozy Altidore in a largely deserved victory for Jurgen
"It's a confidence builder, we are trying to move in the
right direction, to be as sharp as we can for the summer for the
World Cup qualifying games," Dempsey said.
"The goal is to qualify for the World Cup [in 2014] so it is
important to come to a place like this, and play great teams on
their own soil and get results. At times it wasn't pretty but we
grounded out the result tonight."
Italy had a new look attack given Antonio Cassano and
Giuseppe Rossi are facing a race to be fit for June's tournament
while Mario Balotelli was omitted from the squad for continued
However, forwards Alessandro Matri and Sebastian Giovinco
struggled to make an impact and a second-half shift to a front
three also failed to work, meaning Italy coach Cesare Prandelli
has much head scratching to do with two warmups left.
"Absolutely not," he told Rai Sport when asked if he was
worried by Italy's form.
"I liked my team, we can have a great Euros. We were a
little bit more incisive in the second half."
He started with four central midfielders and Angelo Ogbonna
of second-tier Serie B side Torino in central defence, further
underlining the Azzurri's problems despite their easy
qualification for the tournament in Ukraine and Poland.
The first half was largely forgettable with the U.S.
arguably more dangerous than Prandelli's men, who also lost 1-0
at home to Uruguay in a friendly in November.
Dempsey had a free-kick punched away by Azzurri captain
Gianluigi Buffon and Brek Shea had a couple of opportunities.
Italy were limited to half chances from Thiago Motta and
Giovinco as the lack of real width, a perennial problem for
Prandelli, continued to cause difficulty.
Given Italy's lacklustre showing, Balotelli is highly likely
to be included for Euro 2012 where Italy face holders Spain,
Croatia and Ireland in the group phase.
His physicality, flair and eye for goal are badly needed by
Italy and Prandelli, who has made a stand against players
misbehaving, has a difficult decision should the Manchester City
striker continue to cause unwanted headlines.
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley, who plays in Italy with
Chievo, did his hope of gaining a move to a bigger club no harm
with a solid display as the visitors held out in the second half
despite the introduction of keen Azzurri debutant Fabio Borini.
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