2010 FIFA World Cup: Is It Much Too Early for Italian Panic?

Peter LomuscioCorrespondent IJune 5, 2010

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 03:  Angelo Palombo, Claudio Marchisio and Domenico Criscito of Italy dejected look on during the international friendly match between Mexico and Italy at the King Baudouin Stadium on June 3, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

As if there wasn’t enough scrutiny and backlash after Marcello Lippi’s final squad selections, the critics are now out at full force after a recent 2-1 friendly loss to Mexico.


Italia’s loss was their first ever to Mexico in history and just threw fuel on the already burning fire.


So the question now arises, is it much too early for Italian panic?


Is it too soon to jump all over Lippi and La Nazionale?


Yes, the Italians looked far from perfect in Thursday’s match against Mexico, but it was in no way a disaster. The only real negative taken from this match is the hit Andrea Pirlo took that may keep him sidelined for a minimum of ten days to the maximum and worst possible news of missing the entire 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Mexico was a fit, gelling side that was in shape and playing the last of their eight friendlies leading into the World Cup, while the Italians were playing their first of two friendlies to warm up for the summer’s big tournament and were clearly not fit. Some may point this out as an excuse, some may see it as logical, but either way the match was a friendly.


The defence wasn’t as organized as expected, but starting centerback Girogio Chiellini didn’t play. The inexperienced Leonardo Bonucci filled in and showed some upside and also scored Italia’s lone goal, but was caught out of position multiple times including on Mexico’s opener. Domenico Criscito did well from the leftback position and looks to have earned the starting position.


The midfield showed its potential in spurts, but it came alongside some rust. There also was a lack of cohesion that plans to be resolved by Italy’s opener on June 14th following more play and training.


The attack, which was heavily criticized on paper, didn’t persuade any critics to alter their opinions. It looked true that the Italians lacked a premier playmaker to create opportunities for their strikers. The absence of a “trequartista” seemed to be apparent.


Today’s final friendly for the Italians before the World Cup against Switzerland was a perfect opportunity to silence the mass media who are speculating over Italy’s World Cup potential.


But was the result really that vital?


The match finished in a 1-1 draw, but the Italians looked much more composed and disciplined this time around, despite fielding what many would call a reserve eleven that included maybe two regular starters in the starting lineup.


Aside from a frantic opening ten minutes, the Italians looked much improved and took a step in the right direction behind a fiery Gennaro Gattuso and a skillful Riccardo Montolivo.


Yes, it would have been nice to see the Italians come out a play a dominating, persuasive performance, but it was in no way necessary. It is much more important that the Azzurri stay healthy though these spreading injury massacres across the squads, and gain fitness and regularity before the real matches begin.


Before the World Cup in 2006 Italy’s two results in their friendlies were a 0-0 draw vs. Ukraine and a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. So this should calm down the massive shouts for a dominating victory. These calls are only for the supporters to feel assured before the tournament, but they are in no way necessary for the sake of Italia’s potential of future success for the upcoming tournament.


So put the negativity to rest regarding the Italian National side. They may have left some much-preferred creative attackers at home, but this is Marcello Lippi’s squad and he must be supported and trusted for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has earned it after his enormous contributions to the 2006 World Cup Title and has proven time after time he knows what he is doing, as crazy as it may look at certain times.


Lippi truly has done what he believes is best for the overall strength of the squad and has utmost confidence and faith in the 23 men that will support Italia in the upcoming FIFA World Cup. It is time to hold off the criticisms and negativity until they are deserved and give La Nazionale the respect and opportunity to prove themselves despite frustrations.


So to answer the question in simplistic fashion, Yes, it is way too early for panic around the Italian National Team. Their tournament begins of June 14th and you can expect the Italians to be prepared and ready to defend their title.