The all-time World Cup

April 29th 2005
Santiago, Estadio Nacional
2-0 (0-0)

      GOALS                   64'  1-0  Luigi Riva
                              67'  2-0  Luigi Riva

      REFEREE                 Jack Taylor (England)

      ATTENDANCE              63,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Nunes (PAR)

      ITALY (Coach: Vittorio Pozzo, system 4-3-3)

       1 Dino Zoff
       2 Giuseppe Bergomi           (-62)
      20 Fulvio Collovati
       6 Franco Baresi (captain)
      15 Paolo Maldini
      14 Marco Tardelli
       8 Romeo Benetti
      18 Roberto Baggio               (-68)
      16 Valentino Mazzola
       9 Silvio Piola
      11 Luigi Riva                   (-79)

       4 Tarcisio Burgnich            (+62)
      10 Gianni Rivera                (+68)
      12 Sandro Mazzola               (+79)

      PARAGUAY (Coach: Cayetano Ré, system 4-4-2)
       1 José Luis Chilavert (captain)
       2 Francisco Javier Arce
       4 Carlos Alberto Gamarra
      16 Cesar Zavala
      20 Justo Jacquet
       8 Julio Cesar Romero
      18 Roberto Miguel Acuna
       6 Jorge Amado Nunes
      13 Adolfino Canete
       9 Roberto Cabanas              (-46)
      10 Arsenio Pastor Erico         (-83)

      11 Enrique Villalba             (+46)
      19 Roque Santa Cruz             (+83)


    It wasn't a complete meaningless game for Italy although they were already sure of qualification. But they needed a point to finish first and of course they would try to hold on to their successes in this All Time World Cup. And surely they wouldn't risk suspensions and injuries and that was why players like Riccardo Ferri and Giuseppe Meazza this time started on the bench. Paraguay tried in this match to keep it a decent score, nobody in the South American team dared to hope for a point. Zavala stood in for suspended Celso Ayala and coach Ré this time took one striker off and strengthened his midfield line. Roberto Baggio got the nod over Rivera and Sandro Mazzola in the Italy team.

    With nothing important at stake it developed into a rather lacklustre game. Italy of course as always very secure in defence, but in attack they freewheeled to nothing at first. Paraguay took no risks either and with four midfielders in the team they were better equipped to keep Italy at bay rather than creating openings for themselves. Cabanas and Erico had to do it all on their own but were kept out of the match by Bergomi and Collovati, two of the world's all time best markers. Collovati played instead of Ferri, later in the match Bergomi was also rested and in his place came Burgnich, the Inter-man from the 60's and 70's also did his job well and dominated the Paraguayan strikers.

    There were very few chances during that first half. Valentino Mazzola, making his debut in the All Time World Cup, turned away from Jacquet a couple of times and sent crosses to Piola and Riva. Piola wasn't sharp in front of goal and seemed to save his energy for more important moments. He sent both his headers wide. Riva took a pass from Mazzola out of the air but Chilavert saved bravely. The same Chilavert had, strangely enough, the only opportunity for Paraguay. Being a freekick-specialist, he shot it from 25 metres but Zoff was there to save it without too much trouble.

    After the break Villalba played in place of Cabanas but was equally chanceless. Italy now tried a little bit more and it became something like a real match. Paraguay were left on their heels and Nunes had to pay a hard challenge on Baggio with a yellow card, the only card in the match given by composed referee Taylor from England. And very much the Italian way the Squadra Azzurra decided the match within a few minutes and it was Luigi Riva, Il Rombo di Tuono, who did it. He had been Italy's best striker so far in the competition and established it between the 64th and 67th minute. First a fine combination between Baggio and Mazzola brought the ball to the outside left who released a bomb from just outside the box. Chilavert had no chance: 1-0.

    And three minutes later Riva did it again and the game was over. Benetti sent his pass behind the Paraguayan defence, Tardelli served Riva who easily slotted home. It had cost Italy little effort, they had stayed healthy and sustained no cards. Just what they wanted. Paraguay hadn't been able to impress at all in the All Time World Cup. Three matches, three losses, between them a 1-5 against Hungary and a disappointing 1-2 against Romania. Erico had justified his place among the better strikers and Chilavert had been the sound goalie everyone expected, for the rest no players capable of hurting the guns from Europe. Italy won this group, after the 2-1 win against Hungary they had no trouble beating Romania and Paraguay giving only 80% of their real ability. Next task: a big match against Czechoslovakia in the round of last 16, to be played in Santiago.

    Next Tuesday group E comes to an end. Like group B, a very tight group. Sweden visit England in the Wembley Stadium. To be sure of qualifying, Sweden need a win. England will be happy with a draw. Both teams have all their players available. Interesting to see is, which strikers Ramsey chooses. And will he put Finney in the team or will Bryan Robson regain his place? Sweden's coach Raynor is not expected to change much, though his team lost surprisingly to Austria. In the other match Denmark and Austria meet. The Austrians are slightly favourites, but Denmark must win and even in that case remain dependent on the result in the England-Sweden match. A 2-0 Danish win and a 1-0 win for Sweden would put Denmark and England exactly level on points and goals, and that would mean a decisive match. But let's wait what happens next week. It will be close, very close...


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