So far at the World Cup we have seen a few surprising results. Serbia beating Germany, Switzerland beating Spain, England drawing Algeria. Italy drawing Paraguay could be considered in this pool of upsets, though Italy are infamous for starting slow.
I will admit to my fair share of "trash talking" the Germans, Spanish and English for their recent less than stellar results—I hope I don't have to go into hiding if Italy can't get a result against the Kiwi's today.
Lippi will most likely scrap the 4-2-3-1 he played against Paraguay and go with the more traditional 4-4-2 (he switched to the 4-4-2 late in the Paraguay game). Buffon is out with a back injury (maybe for the duration of the tournament) so Federico Marchetti will start the match. Andrea Pirlo is still out with a calf issue, he hopes to be ready for the June 24th match against Slovakia.
Relatively unknown, Marchetti plays for Serie A club Cagliari. Buffon being one of the best Keepers in the world will be missed, but Marchetti has been outstanding the past few years, and at 27 years old, is in his prime. If Italy lose or draw Marchetti will most likely not be the reason.
New Zealand will most likely look to attack, and come out with a 4-3-3. Italy's problem is scoring goals, so we could see New Zealand play a bit of a counter attack and try and get one early.
Cannavaro is not the player he used to be, but he is most likely starting. He can still organize his teammates, but simply he is not as good as he was in 2006. There's a chance he could make a blunder at the back and open up a chance for New Zealand. But he does have one of the World's best CB's by his side in former Juventus teammate Chiellini.
New Zealand's 4-3-3 could leave them exposed on the flanks. Italy should look to distribute to their wingers, but it's likely New Zealands forwards will track back to cover up some space.
The Italians seem set to play Gilardino and Iaquinta up front. Both of these men are good in the air, so we should see lots of crosses come in from the Azzurri. Through balls could play a big part too.
Italy is not a team that wins 4-0. They don't just defend like most people think though, but this team is lacking some creativity and while they have a lot of great strikers, none could be considered elite at this point.
Pirlo being out obviously hurts their creativity, but also their set pieces. Pepe was excellent filling in for Pirlo with set pieces, but Pirlo despite not the player he once was, is still one of the best at delivering set pieces.
Italy are superb at dead ball situations and if they want to make up for a lack of creativity, they will need to pop in some goals from corners and free kicks. Their only goal against Paraguay was off of a corner, and a lot of their goals in their World Cup triumph in 2006 were off of dead balls.
Aside from this, I think that New Zealand is too weak to pull out a draw. Maybe they could give Italy a scare, but my prediction is Italy 2-0 New Zealand. Though I wouldn't be shocked to see Italy concede.
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