Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Azzurri undone at their own game

It was a strange viewing experience to see Italy beaten at their own game in Berne on Monday night. 

Holland simply took the Azzurri apart in their Group C clash and ran-out 3-0 victors – a result which leaves the World Cup holders in a precarious position in the group and football betting enthusiasts alike, who were on the World Cup holders.

Many expected the Italians to soak up Dutch pressure and hit Marco van Basten’s men on the counter-attack, but the Italians were undone by a slick Dutch outfit. 

Once Ruud van Nistelrooy had, albeit slightly fortuitously, fired Holland ahead and Wesley Sneijder added a brilliantly worked second on the break then the Dutch were always in control. 

Van Basten’s men were by far the better side in the first half, where their passing and movement was superior to an Italy side who badly missed the retired Alessandro Nesta and injured Fabio Cannavaro at the back.

Italy were forced to throw men forward in the second half as they battled gamely to get back in the match, but Holland’s slick counter-attacking play was too much and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s header made it 3-0 – helping the Dutch to their first win over Italy in over 30 years. 

The battle of the former AC Milan team-mates Roberto Donadoni and van Basten certainly went to the latter, whose team selection and tactics were flawless despite being the outsiders at football odds of 3.35.

Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart were impressive and midfield duo Nigel De Jong and Orlando Engelaar scrapped for possession and layed the platform to launch wave after wave of Oranje attacks. 

And the worrying thing for the rest of Europe is that van Basten’s options are sure to increase with sub Robin van Persie’s fitness increasing and Arjen Robben and Demy De Zeeuw also on the mend.

By Phil Tomlinson



Phil Tomlinson



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