Azzurri earn draw in last friendly before defence of World Cup
With Italy suffering an embarrassing defeat to Mexico during the week, all eyes were on Marcello Lippi’s side to see how they would bounce back in their last friendly encounter before flying out to South Africa.
Gokhan Inler opened the scoring early on when he made the most of some standing off by the Azzurri to bury a strike inside the post. La Nazionale came fighting back however and it was Fabio Quagliarella who levelled the scoring when his header went in off the post.
During the second period the visitors enjoyed more of the possession, but neither merited the victory as they both failed to create any clear cut chances to score. The Azzurri went away with a well fought draw and went some way to regaining pride following their disappointing defeat two days earlier.
Switzerland started strongly and gave Italy an early scare when Lazio wing-back Stephen Lichtsteiner whipped an inviting ball into the danger zone. Giorgio Chiellini scrambled clear the danger at the back post.
The Azzurri looked rather shaky in the middle, and the absence of the injured Andrea Pirlo only seemed to make matters worse.
On 10 minutes, the Swiss broke the deadlock when Udinese’s Inler launched a pinpoint drive into the bottom corner. At first glance it seemed as if Federico Marchetti should have done better at his near post, but the error was originally forged by Riccardo Montolivo who backed off his marker on the edge of the box.
The Fiorentina man made up for his shortcomings just four minutes later when he provided the assist for the Italian leveller. Montolivo planted a quick cross into the path of Quagliarella, and the Neapolitan did wonderfully to find the far post with a tricky headed finish.
Shortly after, Switzerland almost restored their lead when Valon Behrami was given time and space to shoot from 20 yards. Fortunately for Lippi’s side the West Ham man could only blast into the path of Gianluca Zambrotta who deflected the danger away from goal.
On the stroke of halftime, Italy almost got their noses in front when Giampaolo Pazzini lunged into the path of a loose ball at the back post. The Doria hitman went agonisingly close to making contact, but he couldn’t stretch the final inch necessary to tap the ball into the back of the net.
After the break the Azzurri came out with a little more salt and imposed themselves more as they pressed the ball on halfway. The match was shaping up to be anyone’s game and both ‘keepers were enjoying continued spells of calm as the sides battled for possession in the middle of the park.
Angelo Palombo attempted an audacious drive from range on 64 minutes but was unable to threaten Marco Wolfli in the Swiss goal as his effort sailed just wide of the mark.
The Azzurri were growing and started to get the measure of the home defence. Antonio Di Natale was introduced for Quagliarella and the Udinese hitman proved an instant threat as he whipped in an inviting ball for Pazzini. With men back in numbers Hitzfeld’s side scrambled clear the danger, but they were becoming vulnerable as Italy moved well down the flanks.
With the clock running down the teams took their feet off the gas as their minds inevitably tracked forward to the start of the World Cup in six days time. The Azzurri were maintaining possession without much fuss and were only disturbed by a brief pitch invasion by a lone supporter looking to make a name for himself.
Lippi utilised the final minutes to gift the unused Daniele De Rossi and Vincenzo Iaquinta a late run out. Italy came away with a textbook draw and will have gone some way to restoring some pride following their midweek humiliation.
Become a fan of Goal.com UK's Facebook fan page for all the latest news and insight into everything related to the beautiful game!