World Cup - International

Teams we love to hate: Italy

When we got together for our last little PSP meeting (this is exactly what you think it is: we get together, pretend to talk about how we are going to make this blog better but just have a bunch of beers and argue about soccer) I was surprised by how much some people hate certain national teams.  I of course brought this up, explaining to my cohorts that I wanted to write this here piece about how I really can’t stand watching the Italian team.  The Azzuri just bug me in a way that no other team does.  It’s that deadly combination of the “gamesmanship” (see Zidane, Zinedine) and the less than creative style of play that bores me half way to death.  This hatred became apparent to me during the 2006 World Cup and subsequently I have more or less given up on watching Serie A save for an occasional Inter Milan game.  But for the rest of the league, how much diving, complaining, and lack of midfield play can you stand?

One thing I can’t argue with is the results. They are 4 time World Cup Champions. But damn it, I can hate the way they win.  The World Cup Final is supposed to be one of the greatest games in the sport, but I distinctly remember being so disappointed watching Italy defending deep and playing for PKs late in the game against 10 man France in 2006.

In group play of 2006, the Italians played to a 1-1 draw with the US in a game that finished with the US playing with 9 men and the Italians with 10.  Daniele De Rossi was (rightfully) sent off for Italy after elbowing Brian McBride in the head, forcing the American to get three stitches before returning to the match.  And because they are Italy, the referee felt the need to even up the game by sending off Pablo Mastroeni with a straight red for a foul that most people feel would hardly be a yellow card.  And even better yet, was Eddie Pope receiving his marching orders in the 2nd half for a second yellow on a play where he clearly won the ball before taking down Alberto Gilardino.

The Italian villains continued their run through the Cup beating Australia in the first round of the knock out stage on a very controversial penalty called on Lucas Neil for taking down Fabio Grosso.  Replays show Grosso took a pretty clear dive, but it didn’t matter as Francesco Totti converted the PK in the 95th minute for Italy to win 1-0.  Italy were already down to 10 men after future “hero” Marco Materazzi had seen straight red for a two-footed, studs up challenge.

But it isn’t just the results they get but don’t deserve.  It’s the way it’s done.  It’s the lack of really creative play.  It’s the painfully boring style of defense first.  It’s the way they never really look like a top side but seem to fall into the knockout stages of major tournaments.  (I dream of the luck the Italians get for the US.)  And I know my hatred is somewhat misplaced.  That good teams find ways to win, it’s what makes them good teams.  But if nothing else, I want to see good soccer being played.  Give me the flowing football played by Spain, Holland, or Brazil any day of the week.

What about you?  What teams do you love to hate?


  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Italy: diving; complaining; negative play; 1934, 1990.
    Mexico: they’re our our nemesis; their coin, lighter, and bags of piss throwing fans.
    Germany: 2002; because we are likely to play them if we make it out of our group; anytime I’m wearing my England jersey
    England: anytime I’m wearing my USA jersey

  2. Three cheers Mike. Lets go find Roberto Baggio and tear off his rat-tail! I’m hoping Roque Santa Cruz pulls his head out of his hind-quarters and works with Cardozo to pull off the first of Italy’s three defeats.

    Dear Paraguay,

    Andrea Pirlo has a bum ankle, aim there.


    I usually can’t stand Germany, but they looked amazing yesterday. The new young german players, Ozil, Marin, Khadira, Muller, etc. linked beautifully with the relatively old heads, Schweinsteiger, podolski and klose. they’re going to be a hard out. US needs to win their group.

    That said, the team other than italy that i like the least is portugal. its just greedy, greedy players running 1 on 11. prima donna central. Hopefully Drogba can use that club on his arm to eliminate some portugese whiners on his way to the second round.

  3. i hate watching italy as much as you, mike, but i have to disagree on that mastroeni red. it was a two-footed, studs up “tackle” that at least warranted a yellow. i for one had no complaints.

  4. An Italian friend of mine asked me the other day why I didn’t talk about Italy in the KYW podcast. I laughed and said, “Man, you don’t want me to talk about Italy on air” and promptly went on a rant about diving, cheating, playing ugly soccer and provoking head butts.

  5. Nato Monahano says:

    Came out of the group of death undefeated, only goals conceded were an own goal and a penalty, crushed the Ukranian national team, won one of the best games of the Cup against Germany (who was playing for penalties) and all you mention is the Australia game…I’ll give you the defensive approach but get out of here with your “But it isn’t just the results they get but don’t deserve” comments, they just make you sound bitter.
    Brazil’s win over Germany in 2002 (thank you Oliver) and Spain’s win over the German’s in Euro 2008 were nothing to write home about either. Lets be fair Mike, step overs don’t translate to good soccer i.e. Robinho. (This was written before his sick pass against N. Korea by the way)

  6. Giovanni says:

    Siete solo dei presuntosi. non sapete nulla di calcio (e si sapeva) e, cosa tipica della vostra cultura, pensate che le cose per essere giuste debbano essere brillanti. Siete i soliti superficiali. tornate a studiare…
    Direi che questo articolo trasuda invia e forse un certo complesso di inferiorità.

  7. less than creative style of play? please for the love of everything true in the world just watch again italy’s 3rd goal against the U.S. at the Confed cup in 2009 and then tell me about the less than creative style of play. oh and then watch italy’s goal in the Euro 2000 final against france and tell me about the less than creative style of play. oh and then watch grosso’s goal against bulgaria in september 09 and tell me about less than creative play. for the final time, DE ROSSI AND ALL OF ITALY IS REALLY SORRY ABOUT THE ELBOW! A LOT OF BRAZILIANS, SPANIARDS, and DUTCH THROW ELBOWS TOO ONCE IN A WHILE!

    Giovanni, sono d’accordo con te. magari dovete guardare un po di piu della serie A prima parlate di nuovo.

  8. I hate how everyone hates The Azzuri! In my opinion Italy has won the 2006 FIFA World Cup fair and square, they don’t just win a World Cup with luck! Plus how is it their fault what the referees decision is? The referee does whatever he wants and if someone doesn’t like then too f’in bad!
    I also hate having to listen to an Italy game on the radio or on the TV because all the English commentators do is give hints about how much Italy sucks or how bad they want them to lose…
    And lastly, every time I wear my Italy Jersey, people just love to tell me how unfair they are or how much they suck. And guess how I respond? I brush the back of my hand outward against the bottom of my jaw saying “I don’t give a damn!” Because there’s no point in arguing with them!
    So to all you haters out there, I shout this: FORZA AZZURI!!!

  9. you are only a faggot englishman.

    4 titles versus 1.


    A proud italian.

  10. Italy played very well against Germany in 2006, and scored two of the most beautiful goals ever seen in WC play by Grosso, assist Pirlo, and Del Piero on a counter, top corner. Italy also has produced some of the finest ball artists ever in Rivera, Antognioni, Baggio, Totti, just to name a few. Their approach is defensive and tactical first, but it works! 4 WCs and 3 final appearances in Eurocup, and countless club trophies, over 30, to rival Spain. is that ’nuff said?

  11. 4 World Cups to 0
    It doesn’t mean much to me, but it should mean a lot to you
    There are talkers, and there are doers
    Americans are in the first group

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