Italy tried not to win
The Azzurri is lost from the colours of the World Cup. Yes, Italy are going home, quite unexpectedly, sadly and a little too early.
Coach Cesare Prandelli didn't have to think twice. He resigned even before packing up bags after Italy lost to Uruguay 0-1.
Lots of inquests will follow, for sure, the defeat of the four-time winners. But seeing the match Tuesday, one can come only to one conclusion: Italy lost as they did not try to win. All Italy needed was a draw for advancing from Group D along with Costa Rica into the next round. Uruguay are now moving to next phase and Italy catching next flight home.
It's true certain decision and action had gone against Italy. Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez was found to be too eager in flashing the red card against Claudio Marchisio in the second half and too unwilling to take out the card when Uruguay striker Luiz Suarez snacked on defender Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder. Both the red for Marchisio and not sending off Suarez were ridiculous.
So poor a refereeing at the world level is totally unacceptable. And it might have rattled the morale of a 10-man Italy further. Still, that excuse is not enough for a team, which is best known for its grit and guts.
Italy wanted a win, not a draw, against Uruguay. But when Azzurris stepped onto the field, they completely forgot the pre-match vow, showing little desire to come forward and get the goal. Striker Mario Balotelli was a disaster, who appeared more interested in his acting than his scoring skills. Ciro Immobile was just that, not mobile and very ineffective. Playmaker Pirlo's effort was not enough to inspire them to play like Italy, which failed to create a solid chance to score until they were down 1-0 and desperate after 81 minutes, when a Diego Godin header beat Italian keeper Pierluigi Buffon.
Italy took all by surprise during this World Cup with a new-found style of the game, the Itali-taka, an Italian version of Spain's famous tiki-taka football. They seemed to be breaking away from their trademark conservative football, philosophy of which was: Don't give up a goal before scoring one and don't lose a game before you win it. They looked more attacking, attractive and innovative with their game.
But Tuesday changed everything. Italy were neither attacking nor defending. And once red-carded, they were doomed. They should blame none but themselves.