I would rather see Giuseppe Rossi on the pitch than see him as a commentator on ESPN. A zombie would have more animation. ESPN put out a panel of Michael Ballack, Alexei Lalas, Giuseppe Rossi with Bob Ley moderating to discuss the Italy vs Spain match.
Rossi as a US citizen, a NJ native, whose national ambitions saw him switching allegiance to Italy became a polarizing figure. His demeanour in the studio was that off someone who expected US fans to gang tackle him from behind any moment and then do unspeakable things to his pubes. He spoke when he was spoken to, his responses were pithy, and his face wore a deer in the headlights look. Asked about Fernando Torres, Rossi came up with the stunning revelation that “he lacked confidence.” Good money was plonked on that one.
Rossi’s dead pan monotone was no mitigation to Lalas’s unhinged ramblings which included Spain “withering away”, something about his 6 year old daughter blah blah blah, and then after Spain had dominated ball possession with something like 60% and played exactly like Spain was to inform the viewers Spain had played differently. Michael Ballack was a bit better except one got the uncomfortable feeling he was using Google Translator but at least he came up with the intriguing notion that the state of the pitch did not support the type of passing game expected from Spain.
The discussion predictably drifted to Mario Balotelli and Fernando Torres, two players who will always be in the spotlight, one who will not a raise an eyebrow if he’s found behind bars and the other who plays as if he’s trying to get out of them. But that was an easy route to follow. There should have been more discussion of the tactics, the unconventional formations used by both teams, and players not named Balotelli or Torres.
Was Vincent Del Bosque’s reverting to a more conventional set served by his selection of Torres after relying on no striker in the first half and only midfielders? It would appear that no material advantage was achieved after the striker squandered three golden opportunities created especially by the midfield.
The only goal came from David Silva’s brilliant outlet that unlocked the Italian defense for Cesc Fabregas to slip through for the equalizer. Should Del Bosque have given Fernando Llorente or Alvaro Negredo a chance? On the other hand Cesare Prandelli’s bold move to use Daniele De Rossi in the unfamiliar role of sweeper paid off and the Roma midfielder was magnificent keeping Italy alive after some very timely tackles and blocks. There could have been a discussion of Antonio De Natale, so vastly underrated as a striker whose lack of national appearances has never been commensurate with his domestic output. There was no acknowledgment of Andrea Pirlo or Andres Iniesta (absolutely stone cold magnificent) in driving their respective attacks. Did Jordi Alba and Emanuele Giaccherini, respective greenhorns acquit themselves well on this huge international stage?
There is so much scope for improvement and one hungers for some semblance of informed analysis that is not forthcoming because who ESPN puts out there seems to be dictated by expediency and image. Get some writers who do this for a living, even if they have not played one single league game or look like they’ve never bathed for a year.