Thursday, June 22, 2006

A win will qualify Italy for round two. A loss, coupled with a win of Ghana over the United States in the shadow game, will send them home. The Czech Republic will also qualify with a win, and goes home with a loss. The decision in Group D comes down to the last two games, the double match.
The Czech Republic starts fast, connecting their passes forward, trying to pierce the Italian defense early.
"Italy struggling to get out of their own half," says the commentator after a few minutes of play.
Italy comes out and tests the back line of the Czech Republic. They easily pass the test.
"Whatever the Italians have thrown at them, the Czech Republic has responded," says the commentator.
Furthermore, they put the test on the Italians, releasing shots on target.
Italy is shaken by an injury of one of their star players. Nesta has to leave the field due to injury. Nevertheless, Italy sees chance to break out. A striker dribbles the ball through the defense all the way to the end of the field, two meters next to the goal. The striker cuts the ball in front of the line and tries to lob it back in front of the goal. He shoots the ball in a high orbit, over the crossbar. Italy needs to warm up.
"No creativity when they get into striking range,” says the commentator.
Ghana has scored in the shadow game. The news stimulates the Italians. They send the ball, from a corner, high to the far post. Materazzi, the substitute for Nesta, jumps three feet high to connect his head with the ball. The header beats the keeper of the Czech Republic.


The Drama of Nesta’s injury has become a blessing.
The Czech Republic is blessed, minutes before halftime, with the news of The USA equalizing against Ghana. With a draw in the shadow game they will take second place in the group, even if they loose against Italy today.
There are Blessings for both teams, and there is drama for both teams. Deep into stoppage time, the referee gives Polak, for the Czech Republic, his second yellow card. Two yellows means red, the Czech Republic will have to play on with only ten men.
While the halftime breaks starts, the news of Ghana scoring another goal, taking the lead, reaches the stadium. Bad news for the Czech Republic.
The Italians start the second half cautious. It seems they close the shop, I refer to the Italian-Ghana match report for the location of that shop.
However, Italy comes forward, penetrating the grounds of the Czech Republic. Totti fires a long-range shot, it goes wide.
Minutes later the ball bounces in front of him, only two feet away from the goal line. Totti shoots air, it is not his day. In the fifty-first minute, he retakes the long range shot from the same spot as before. He drives the ball to the top left corner, perfect aim. The keeper of the Czech Republic makes the save of the day, he dives to tip the ball next to the goal. Totti is denied, again.
Italy breaks down the Czech Republic in the eighty-seventh minute, and smothers their dream. Two Italian strikers beat the offside trap from the halfway-line. The keeper faces two men, and no defender in sight. The Italian striker approaches the keeper, pretending to pass the ball to his teammate. Instead, he plays the ball around the keeper and rolls it over the goal line.

"It has been a slow comfortable kill, for Italy," says the commentator when the referee blows the end-whistle.
The prey was the Czech Republic, and their dream.