Monday, July 23, 2018

Italy 0 Germany 0: Toothless Azzurri fail to fire with Balotelli watching

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Nov 2016


Italy and Germany played out a friendly 0-0 draw at San Siro on Tuesday as the Azzurri failed to gain a slight measure of revenge for their Euro 2016 elimination.

Hosts Italy had never lost to the Germans in tournament action before July’s penalty-shootout reverse in Bordeaux and Antonio Conte’s replacement in the dugout from that encounter, Giampiero Ventura, had made a vow to gain recompense in Milan.

However, his side lacked composure in attack throughout the game, Andrea Belotti hit the post with their clearest chance, and such a toothless performance against a below-strength German side may prompt calls for Mario Balotelli’s recall to swell. The in-form Nice man was in attendance at his former stomping ground.

The game was selected as a trial event for FIFA’s testing of video assistant referees, with president Gianni Infantino present in the booth, but there was little incident of controversy or goal action for it to be called for.

A denied Italy penalty and Kevin Volland’s offside goal might have stirred Infantino in a bunker somewhere in the stadium, but any plans to introduce the technology at the 2018 World Cup are unlikely to hark back to this game for evidence.

Lacking competitive importance and a host of key players from both sides, the game began in something of a torpor as each team took it in turns to produce long spells of possession with little penetration. 

Germany’s high defensive line left them vulnerable on occasion, Ciro Immobile profiting more than once, but the former Borussia Dortmund striker only got one clear sight at goal and lashed it well wide.

Gianluigi Buffon was sharp off his line to deny Ilkay Gundogan and Thomas Muller at either end of the first half, as well as thwarting the Manchester City midfielder after he latched onto Muller’s chipped pass over the Italy defence, only to blast straight at the veteran goalkeeper.

Ventura introduced Gianluigi Donnarumma for his second cap at half-time and the AC Milan prodigy had much less to deal with than Buffon had early in the second half as the Azzurri began brightly.

Belotti tumbled under a clumsy challenge from Germany substitute Jonathan Tah, who was booked shortly after when he tripped Eder.

Volland touched Joshua Kimmich’s cross past Donnarumma just after the hour, only to be correctly called offside, but Italy had the game’s clearest chances late on.

First, Bernd Leno produced a superb save to spurn Federico Bernardeschi’s skimming effort, before Belotti hit the post after outmuscling Shkodran Mustafi.

Simone Zaza was handed five minutes to atone for his comical penalty miss in France, but Balotelli’s case will be strengthened on this evidence when he discusses his international future with Ventura this week.


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