Ciao, I'm Ryan and I'll be your live blogger for the Italy-Slovakia match. Hopefully I can provide some insight for you throughout the game, especially for those that aren't getting a chance to watch it live.
Both Italy and Slovakia have the chance to move on from the group stage with a win, although Slovakia would also need New Zealand to tie or lose. However, with Italy being pre-tournament favourites for the group, the pressure is all on them.
The Azzurri defense has only given up two shots on goal in two games, but unfortunately for them, both have resulted in goals. On the other end of the field, the Italians have struggled mightily to create goals. While severely outplaying New Zealand, they still could only muster a goal from the penalty spot.
The most notable change to Italy's lineup will be the insertion of Rino Gattuso in the midfield, which should bring back fond memories for Italy fans, but also raise a few eyebrows.
The live blog is below, with the most recent posts at the top. Enjoy the match.
Final Thoughts: For the neutral fan, the final 30 minutes of the game were fantastic to watch. Italy pressing, Slovakia going up by two and Italy drawing back. Slovakia going up 3-1 and Italy getting another one to make it 3-2. The Quagliarella offside call will be examined thoroughly by fans and media alike.
Congratulations to Slovakia on a fantastic win.
90+4' - Simone Pepe had a chance at the back post after a Chiellini long throw. Italy had a beautiful chance there. A last gasp effort missed.
90+3' - The Slovakian keeper is receiving well-deserved boos from the crowd as he fakes an injury to waste time. To the ref's credit, he's having none of it.
90+2' - GOOOOOAAAALLL! Quagliarella with a chipped goal from outside the box to the top left corner. It's still a game. 3-2 Slovakia. Sestak has come on for Vittek.
88' -GOOAAAAL! Kopunek scores on a throw in by Slovakia. He slipped past his man and tipped it over Marchetti. 3-1 Slovakia.
87' -Kopunek comes on for Strba.
86' - It appeared that Quagliarella had scored on a pass from Di Natale but it's been called offside. I'm not so sure about the call.
80' - GOOOAAAAAL! - Di Natale with a gaping net after Quagliarella's shot was parried by Mucha, the Slovakian keeper. Great one-two by Quagliarella and Iaquinta to create the chance. We also have some controversy as there was a fight in the net as Italy tried to retrieve the ball and get it back to the center of the field. 2-1 Slovakia.
78' - Stoch has been a VERY impressive player for Slovakia so far. Great pace and ball control. Skrtel has also been a wall at the back.
73' - GOOOAAAAAL! - Robert Vittek scored his second goal. Chiellini cleared a corner, but Hamsik first touched a low ball back into the box and Vittek beat Marchetti to the near side. Chiellini didn't get position on him when the ball came back in the box.
69' - Stoch just had a great chance on the counter but Cannavaro's positioning forced him to hit a shot from outside the box that swerved wide right.
66' - A cross into the box by Pep resulted in a Quagliarella volley which beat the keeper by Skrtel made a miracle save on the line. Glasses of vino were just smashed all across Italy.
65' - The sideline shot of Lippi made me think that he was contemplating which island he'll be exiled to if Italy lose this game.
62' - Di Natale gets a nice shot on goal from just outside the box, but the Slovakian keeper makes a solid save.
61' - The pictures of Italian fans are depressing. The Slovakian fans are obviously a lot more festive.
55' - Maggio with a beautiful ball in to Di Natale in the box but Toto misses the net badly on his turn. Pirlo is entering the game for Montolivo. That's Lippi's last sub so Italy have pulled every trick out of the hat at this point.
52' - Slovakia seem much more content to sit back and hope for the counter while Italy are pushing up more. The CBC announcer just called Cannavaro a "wise old bird". Is that a compliment or a shot at his age and brain size?
46' - Italy have subbed on Maggio for Criscito and Quagliarella for Gattuso. They appear to be playing a 4-2-3-1. Italy could draw 1-1 and move on if the Paraguay and New Zealand stay at 0-0.
Halftime thoughts - Slovakia is controlling the pace of the game, possession and has more chances than Italy. It's not looking good for the defending World Cup champions unless they find some way to get possession back and put some pressure on the Slovakian backline. It may be time to try Pirlo, Pazzini or a variety of other options.
45+2' - Thunderous volley by Kucka goes just wide of the Italian goal. That was a huge smack.
43' - a Gattuso kick to Strba's knee has caused a huge gash to the Slovakian player's leg. The contact looked incidental, but you never know with a player like Gattuso.
40' - Whoa! Martin Skrtl came dangerously close to heading into his own goal defending a cross into the box. That would have made the game VERY interesting.
34' - Great long shot on goal by Strba that Marchetti just barely parried wide. Italy is sticking with their 4-4-2 modification despite not enjoying much possession. Slovakia leads the shots on goal 2-0.
30' - Italy looks completely dejected. It's interesting to note that the Azzurri have not lead for a single minute of any game they've played in. The Italian strength is the ability to play great defensive football and to employ "catenaccio" when they are ahead, but they haven't had a chance to show it.
25' - GOOOAAAAAAL! Robert Vittek splits the center of the defense and beats Marchetti with a low shot to the left corner. 1-0 Slovakia. It appeared that Chiellini committed to a tackle and De Rossi couldn't fill the hole behind him.
23' - It appears that Italy have changed formations on the fly. Pepe is now patrolling the left side and Gattuso has drifted to the right.
20' - Momentum seems to be swinging. The Azzurri are pressing the action in Slovakia's half but haven't found a hole in the defense yet.
15' - This could be a rough game. There have been several clashes in the air with players going down hard. At this point Slovakia has had 60% of the possession, but really only 1 chance to show for it.
10' - Nice chance by the Azzurri on a Di Natale free kick, but a Slovakian defender went down on an apparent foul from Iaquinta.
6' - Hamsik had a chance at the top part of the box after a flick-on. He fluffed the volley or that could have been an early goal.
3' - Slovakia has held on to early possession.
1' - The Italian team seems loose but Lippi looks tentative.
Good to see Slovakian, Marek Hamsik, belting out the anthem. I like when athletes are proud of playing for their country. That said, if singing the anthem with enthusiasm wins games, the Italians have the upper hand. Chiellini looks like he wants to be heard in the upper terrace.
The television coverage is showing montages of Italy losing to Korea in 1966 and France losing out at the group stage after winning in '98. Apparently they're trying to jinx Italy. I wonder how the Slovakian team feels about all the focus on Italy, especially since they're still technically in the tournament.
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