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Three quick thoughts on Italy-New Zealand (World Cup Group F)


Three quick thoughts after Italy and New Zealand played to a 1-1 draw in Group F:

1. Neither goal should have stood. On Shane Smeltz's goal in the 7th minute, the New Zealand forward was clearly offside when the ball was flicked on by a teammate. The penalty kicked awarded to Italy in the 27th minute was also poor officiating. Yes, New Zealand's Tommy Smith had a handful of Daniele Di Rossi's jersey, but not enough to send him flying forward as if a bus had hit him. You could say Di Rossi sold it well, or you could say that referee overreacted and gave a penalty when one wasn't deserved. The two miscalls cancelled each other out, but it was disappointing nonetheless.

2. Italy's theatrics were an embarrassment. Fabio Cannavaro is far too good a player to pull the stunt he did in the first half. In the 13th minute, he went down clutching his face, but Rory Fallon's elbow came nowhere near his mug. In the 19th minute, Cannavaro went down holding his chest. Again, he wasn't touched there. Cannavaro, Domenico Criscito and others tried over and over to bait the referee into turning a routine foul into a yellow card. Credit to the official for not falling for it and shame on the Italians for resorting to such tactics.

3. Italy is still likely to go through, unfortunately. A just outcome in Group F would be for Paraguay and New Zealand to advance. The Italians, who got the easiest draw of any power, have played beneath their ability in two draws and you would like to see that come back to bite them. But Italy needs only to defeat a mediocre Slovakian side to move on, and amazingly they could still win the group. Every World Cup needs underdogs, and there is none more appealing than the Kiwis. So pray for Slovakia to pull the upset and send Italy home where they belong.