Denmark vs. Italy: 5 Things We Learned
Despite a desperate Danish side looking the better team overall, they tied Italy 2-2 in what was a late comeback for Cesare Prandelli's men.
The Azzurri fielded an experimental lineup and capitalized on a few late opportunities thanks to the heroics of Pablo Osvaldo and another goal from Alberto Aquilani.
Here are five things we learned from the European World Cup Qualifying match between Denmark and Italy:
This Italy Never Quits
Cesare Prandelli has instilled a never-say-die attitude in his Italian side and it shows even when there's nothing on the line.
Perhaps the best quality about this team is that they show their best form against the best opposition, as noted when they faced Spain in the Confederations Cup.
Against Denmark, the Azzurri erased a 2-1 deficit when Alberto Aquilani scored in the 91st minute. Even though Denmark are now tied on points with Bulgaria in Group B, they lie in third place because of goal difference.
Pablo Osvaldo Might Have Booked a Spot in Brazil
The mercurial Italian-Argentine talent has always been on the fringes of Cesare Prandelli's Italian national team, and inconsistent play with Roma in the past two seasons meant he never really had the chance to cement himself a spot on the squad.
Now having more consistent playing time with new club Southampton in the Premier League, Osvaldo showed his touch of unexpected brilliance against Denmark, scoring a wonderful goal and giving Roma fans a memory of what he can be capable of when he's confident.
Expect Osvaldo to find himself on the plane to Brazil next year as a substitute.
Prandelli Has Made Italy Versatile
Ever since taking over for Marcello Lippi who had an unsuccessful second stint with the Azzurri, Cesare Prandelli has revolutionized the side, focusing on aesthetically pleasing football and the possibility to switch between two formations.
Prandelli can easily go with a Juventus-like 3-5-2 formation which features the backbone of the Bianconeri.
Depending on the situation, he has switched or started with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, where he can heavily utilize Italy's new influx of quality wide players such as Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Insigne and Giuseppe Rossi.
Italian Fans Are Dreaming Big
There's no doubt that Italian fans are dreaming big.
After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa became a nightmare for Azzurri fans, this upcoming adventure in Brazil has many in the peninsula thinking that their nation can go all the way.
Considering how Italy have dominated their group in the qualification stage and had the recipe to quell Spain's tiki-taka style of possession play, there's no limit to how far Italy can go in the competition.
Fringe Players Who Showed Their Worth
Players like Alberto Aquilani and Alberto Gilardino have their work cut out for them if they want to book a ticket to Brazil.
Since this match was primarily a chance for Prandelli to experiment using new players in an updated formation, it'll be interesting to see how a handful of the men in the starting XI will be used.
Thiago Motta hasn't featured much in recent months but was used primarily as a defensive midfielder who suffocated the Danish trequartista Christian Eriksen.
Alberto Gilardino is a good super-sub for Mario Balotelli, but it remains to be seen if Prandelli chooses him or Pablo Osvaldo as the second No. 9 for the World Cup.
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