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November 14, 2012
• Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
• Attendance: 20000
S. El Shaarawy 35'
M. Valbuena 37'
B. Gomis 67'
That's it from Parma. Didier Deschamps gets his first friendly win as Bleus boss after a come from behind win at the Ennio Tardini. The Azzurri looked good for a spell, but they tailed off and were punished. I'm back for PSG v Rennes on Saturday in Ligue 1, and until then - good night!
90' + 3'
FT: Italy 1-2 France
90' + 2'
Giaccherini unable to slip in Balotelli, and that is almost the last piece of action of 2012 for both France and Italy.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Into the first of those three, as Diamanti makes progress, but is muscled out by Reveillere. Remember, France have beaten Germany and drawn with Spain and England in this calendar year. Not a bad one for them.
THREE ADDED MINUTES TO BE PLAYED
Entering injury time here - as Italy want to ed their rather special calendar year with at least a draw. Can they manage it?
Yes, it definitely did not cross the line. It bounced off the woodwork, and into play, miles off the line as Lloris regains composure. France have a free-kick though, as Evra needs a little medical attention. All Italy in this late stage.
GIACCHERINI! DID IT CROSS THE LINE?! No is the answer. Nervy moment for the French as the ball from the right again eludes Evra, as Giaccherini slams the ball onto the crossbar, and bounces out. Might need another look at that.
MENEZ! LOW EFFORT! It's saved and turned away by Sirigu. Gourcuff fouled Diamanti in the build-up. Menez dribbles on the left and turns slightly to fire at goal, but his PSG team-mate gets the better of him.
Heart in mouth moment for France as both Koscielny and Sakho miss the ball after a low cross in. Neither Balotelli nor Giovinco can fashion the shot away, but France are on the break...
Maxime Gonalons comes on in midfield, as he becomes the third Lyon player on the pitch alongside team-mates Reveillere and Gourcuff.
GIOVINCO! Fantastic strike, and a great save by Lloris. Dipping and swerving all over the place. Gets down low enough for Lloris to safely palm away, but signal of intent?
2012 is set to end for the Azzurri with a defeat, as it stands as Prandelli looks on slightly forlornly. Sirigu picks up as Chiellini intervenes. Balotelli attempts to latch onto a lofted ball, but Koscielny has it instead.
Set-piece taker Pirlo has had better in his time, as his delivery is somewhat easily taken away by Reveillere. 12 minutes plus stoppage time to play in Parma.
Italy pushing for an equaliser now as they step up their efforts. Reveilliere forced to clear after progress is made by Diamanti. Corner.
Free-kick to Italy as Pirlo stands tall to take it. Curling effort, ad it picks out Balotelli who dives to get a connection as it flies wide. Half-heartedly looking for a penalty there.
Italy faltering at the minute as France continue to look for an extension to their advantage. Diamanti had seconds earlier whipped in a low ball achingly wide.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Substitution for France - Yoann Gourcuff makes his first France start since injury coming on for Valbuena. Alessandro Diamanti is on for Stephan El Shaarawy.
GOMIS! Curling effort ad its well saved by Sirigu who immediately gets the ball away into play. Further action on the bench here.
Earlier, Mario Balotelli was handed the first yellow card of the game by Alberto Undiano Mallenco for a rash challenge. Meanwhile, Antonio Candreva has gone off for Sebastian Giovinco.
It was a lovely phase of play from France who take the lead. Menez's dribbling has already caused one or two headaches, and Prandelli is looking to change things around with a substitution.
Assist Patrice Evra
Goal Bafetimbi Gomis
GOAALL! FRANCE TAKE THE LEAD! Brilliant, and Deschamps should take the credit! The substitution effect has worked as Menez dribbles down the left with Evra hitting a complete mis-hit of the strike. Chiellini is nowhere to be seen as Gomis ghosts from behind to turn it in!
Interesting to see how France's substitutes work in this second half. A lack of international experience all round, but Menez's dribbling will need to be checked.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Of course, worth noting that Menez did play in Italy for a time with Roma, before returning to his boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2011. In brilliant form for the Ligue 1 leaders so far.
Double substitution from France - Giroud and Ribery, who looks a little in discomfort, come off to be replaced by Jeremy Menez and Bafetimbi Gomis.
Pirlo already asserting his legendary authority in midfield. Controls a pass from Maggio on the right, and launches a superb 40-50 yard pass across the width of the midfield to find El Shaarawy.
Valbuena's cross was headed away by Balotelli who does his defensive duty impeccably. Chiellini with a rash challenge on Capoue in midfield, but entirely fair as France retrieve possession.
Giancarlo Aimone on Twitter: would like to see Italy bring on some future defenders - Astore - Santon, etc. - I probably would agree with this comment. Already four substitutions made, can we see another one soon from Prandelli?
Ribery slips in a one-two with Valbuena on that left, as the Marseille man plays back the ball. Leonardo Bonucci is forced to slam the ball behind for a corner. Valbuena to take.
Free-kick to France here. Franck Ribery over it, about 25 metres away from goal, and it's smashed into the wall. Hooked back into the box and Sirigu claims it.
The Azzurri have another foray forward, as they press up the pitch. Balotelli, who has looked rather dynamic in this game, cannot get a concrete touch on the ball.
The entire midfield has changed has Florenzi, Pirlo and Giaccherini play the second half in place of the substituted Verratti, Montolivo and Marchisio. Change at the back earlier was Bonucci on for Barzagli.
An Italian triple threat as Lloris is forced to make three saves in the space of a few seconds. Low shot by Florenzi is palmed away before a cross by Candreva is easily into the hands of the Tottenham goalkeeper.
CAPOUE! Long-range shot from the Toulouse midfielder who tries his luck from about 30 yards out. Had very little space to actually get the shot away, but the young midfielder managed it. No harm to Sirigu.
Great cross on the left by Evra who attempts to find Giroud in a rather cramped midfield, but it's Chiellini at the ready to somehow deflect the ball away from goal.
Another two to bring you. An INTERNATIONAL DEBUT for Alessandro Florenzi who replaces Riccardo Montolivo. Midfield maestro Pirlo makes an appearance coming on for the brilliant Verratti.
Claudio Marchisio is replaced by Emanuele Giaccherini here. The Juve midfielder (the first one anyway) comes off after not exactly getting into the match unlike his midfield mates Verratti and Montolivo
Andrea Pirlo is warming up already on the touchline, as Cesare Prandelli rings the changes. On the field, Valbuena sees a loose ball go out of play.
Bright start from the hosts as El Shaarawy races forward. Cross in from Maggio is somewhat awkwardly denied by a header by Mamadou Sakho.
UNDERWAY IN THE SECOND HALF! It appears that Anthony Reveillere has come on, in place presumably of Lille's Mathieu Debuchy.
The players emerge for this second half in the final international game of 2012. Some substitutions to bring you.
Goal.com's Carlo Garganese on Twitter: Verratti just ridiculously good. I don't think he is compatible in the same team as Pirlo, which is a big shame as he'll become world class
Statistic - Mathieu Valbuena's goal was France's first in a friendly since May, and their first under Deschamps. They had drawn 0-0 with Uruguay and lost 1-0 v Japan in their two preceding exhibitions.
An interesting second half is in store here - but what do you think? Which players should come off and which should come on? Send me your messages via Twitter to @mohammedali_93.
A rather turgid opening blossomed into an end to end attacking game in Parma as we reach the interval. Balotelli's strike against the bar loosened a still suspect French defence, who couldn't exactly test Sirigu. El Shaarawy's fine finish from a weighted Montolivo pass gave the Azzurri the lead, only for 100 seconds as Valbuena's brilliant strike restored parity.
45' + 1'
HALF-TIME: ITALY 1-1 FRANCE
Edging towards a rather thrilling end to the first-half in Parma. One minute added time at the Ennio Tardini.
A long shot from distance is no problem for Lloris to contend with, but goalscorer Valbuena is down. A bit of concern, not just for France, but for his club Marseille too. Magic spray is being administered.
It's the visitors on the break as Valbuena drifts in a cross from the right, and Barzagli is forced to hurriedly clear. When the Bleus attack, it's in numbers!
The attacking tempo has upped spectacularly since that double intervention as Italy look for their second. A poor ball by Marchisio gives France the upper hand, who break with pace.
Well, what a turnaround we have here in Parma. Valbuena's stunning effort has made it 1-1, just seconds after Italy took the lead. Valbuena scored a carbon copy of that in the Champions League against Dortmund. Superb stuff.
Goal Mathieu Valbuena
GOAAL! INSTANT EQUALISER! FRANCE MAKE IT 1-1! Fantastic goal, a superb individual effort by Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena. He gets out of a tight spot on the wing against Verratti, and dribbles his way into the box and fires into the top corner. Amazing.
Rather poor goal to concede by the normally adept French defence. Lovely movement by El Shaarawy to create the chance as Balotelli helped on a long ball towards Montolivo, who provided the assist incidentally.
Assist Riccardo Montolivo
Goal Stephan El Shaarawy
GOOAAL!! ITALY!!! STEPHAN EL SHAARAWY SCORES! Fantastic pass by Montolivo to slip in the young Milan striker who ghosted behind Koscielny. Faced on a one against one with Lloris, El Shaarawy slides the ball centrally under the goalkeeper! AZZURRI LEAD!
About 12 minutes left to go in this first half and it's still Italy 0-0 France at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. The Azzurri have been frustrated, but at the back, they've been defensively sound.
SISSOKO! Over the bar. Chance effort from the Toulouse man who tries his luck. Never going to harm Sirigu, that, but a shot it is.
Nervy moment for Chiellini as he deflects the ball off his shin, leaving Moussa Sissoko to race past him, as Barzagli helps out to hand Italy a goal-kick.
Balzaretti picks up possession and attempts to deliver in a cross. Charged down by Koscielny, as France concede the corner. Played short by the left-back as Candreva switches flank to fire in a low shot wide.
It's Deschamps' team to attempt to break the deadlock now as Valbuena makes progress on this far wing. Capoue there to protect him, as Matuidi turns Montolivo inside out. The move fizzles out as Candreva is fouled by Giroud.
Lovely by Montolivo who nutmegs Matuidi in the penalty box after a fine ball in by Candreva. The Azzurri unable to penetrate a solid French defence as of yet, as Balotelli fails to control Montolivo's pass.
Very quiet attacking-wise as we move past the halfway mark in this first period. We've had Balotelli strike the bar, but otherwise, it's been rather dull in the final third. Nevertheless, very competitive in midfield.
It's Verratti again, who moves forward and picks out El Shaarawy towards the left. The young Milan striker though is crowded out by Debuchy and Koscielny, as he concedes possession after a failed dribble.
Montolivo lifts in the free-kick curling all the way towards the far post, as El Shaarawy jumps for the ball aerially, before it sails out easily. Verratti a potent threat in midfield so far, constantly instigating chances.
That is very poor from France, who gift possession to Balotelli in the opposition half despite looking comfortable. Evra atones for the mistake and hauls down the young striker. Petty, that. Free-kick to Italy.
VALBUENA! Long-range strike, and straight into the arms of Sirigu, as Balotelli wins a free-kick. Valbuena's trickery saw him quickly move the ball on his right, before sending a swerving shot towards goal.
Evra breaks forward despite a little knock suffered by Montolivo. Ribery picks out Matuidi with a clever little pass into the box, and it's the PSG man who gets the slight touch, but it's Sirigu who claims possession.
Verratti threads through behind the defender to find Balzaretti on the left wing on the far side. The full-back however opts for the first-time cross and fails to find a team-mate. Candreva is on the end of it, but ribery intercepts to break, but that quickly fizzles out.
Chiellini forced to concede a throw-in as les Bleus move forward. Valbuena's cross is easily picked out by Salvatore Sirigu, who replaces the revered Gianluigi Buffon in goal this evening.
Anonymous comments: El Sharaawy and Ribery are the players to watch. Their style of play is also very similar so it will be very interesting match. Perhaps young SES can learn few things from the master Ribery - Tweet me @mohammedali_93
France happy just to sit back at the moment under pressure from the Italian defence as Ribery attempts to again force an opening, but Maggio's physical presence defies him once more.
France making progress down this left wing as Ribery marauds his way past Maggio and Barzagli, but the Italians force their way back into contention, and crowd the Bayern Munich winger into conceding possession. It's paid off.
The crowd has immediately come alive after that strike, but France have a dangerous free-kick as Ribery is hauled down by Maggio. Valbuena whips it in, and Barzagli heads it to safety.
BALOTELLI! OFF THE BAR! Fantastic strike by Mario, after good control by El Shaarawy to hold off the challenge of Koscielny, latching onto Marchisio's fine pass. First time strike, and it was lovely placed by Balotelli as it came crashing off the bar.
Candreva whips in a threatening ball once again from the wing, as Lloris holds sway. Edgy start to the game this, eight minutes in and already a number of fouls.
BALOTELLI! After being fouled by Sakho earlier, the number nine has two touches to set himself up and unleash a powerful strike over the bar. The crowd liked that, but it was never in danger of breaching Lloris' net.
OH! Almost a nervy moment for France as Sakho is nearly caught in possession at the back and hurriedly passes the ball out of the penalty box. Anywhere seems the best move, but the ball finds Candreva whose low cross in is ultimately caught by Lloris.
Ribery is caught in possssion as Balotelli surges forward in search of the first goal. The striker doesn't manage to get anywhere as France return in numbers to nullify the threat. They do need to watch themselves at the back.
Sissoko retrieves the ball on the far side, as France slip into their passing rhythm. A number of passes bamboozles the midfield, before Candreva and Maggio combine to win a throw-in.
Another free-kick, this time to the hosts as Gonalons tussles with Balotelli before catching the Man City star as he turns away. France are looking for their first away win here on the peninsula in 18 years.
Free-kick awarded to France as Maggio makes way down the right flank and curls in a cross. Balzaretti gets contact, but the referee has adjudged that there was a push.
Kick off at the Ennio Tardini! Italy get us underway attacking from left to right. France in their change strip of white shirts and navy shorts.
Arguably the two best anthems on offer as La Marseillaise and Il Canto degli Italiani are played over in Parma. Kick-off moments away. Tonight's referee is Alberto Undiano Mallenco from Spain.
The teams are out and the national anthems will soon be played out at the Ennio Tardini.
Don't forget to send me your predictions and comments throughout the game - Do you agree with Italy's rather inexperienced line-up? Can Prandelli's men win tonight? Send me your comments via Twitter to @mohammedali_93. I'll put the best ones up.
TEAM NEWS Coach Cesare Prandelli named his team on Tuesday. PSG duo Salvatore Sirigu and Marco Verratti start against the country they currently reside in, with the latter winning his second cap. Antonio Candreva is also handed a start, in place of the injured Pablo Osvaldo in a 4-3-3 formation as Federico Balzaretti is named at left-back after Domenico Criscito's withdrawal. For France, Yohan Cabaye misses out through injury, with Moussa Sissoko named in his place. Etienne Capoue gets the nod ahead of Maxime Gonalons, as Olivier Giroud leads the line.
FRANCE: (4-3-3) Lloris - Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Evra - Capoue, Matuidi, Sissoko - Valbuena, Ribery, Giroud
CONFIRMED TEAM LINE-UPS:
A few snippets of information ahead of kick-off: Italy have won 13 of their 19 games against France at home. Italy rose to fifth in the Fifa World Rankings, whilst France dropped below Ivory Coast, Switzerland and Ecuador to 18th place. France have won seven, drawn three, and lost three of their 13 games in 2012. France's last encounter on the peninsula was in 2007, a 0-0 draw in European Championship qualifying. Only Mickael Landreau, Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery were selected in both match squads.
Meanwhile, Didier Deschamps has told his team to forget the Spain game and commented on the comparison with Italy: "As I have told the players, we're neither better nor worse than before the Spain game. We can't say that we're at the same level than the European champions or the Euro runners up (Italy)."
Coach Cesare Prandelli has played down the importance of the friendly: "The friendly counts for the ranking and it is important because it is against an important opponent. Everyone says the standings don't matter, but then everyone looks at them. The young lads that go out onto the pitch will have to show their enthusiasm and talent. It won't be a normal match against France; it's never a normal match against them. We know that very well, having faced them many times in important competitions and in finals, too. It's never a friendly match against France."
The two sides have much history in the world of football. The last encounter was a Euro 2008 group stage 2-0 win for Italy, as Eric Abidal was sent off. Preceding that were a double Euro 2008 qualifier which ended 0-0 in Italy, though France did manage a 3-1 win in Paris. The mother of all recent matches nonetheless, was the infamous 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, with the Italians winning their fourth world crown.
France meanwhile, endured a mixed international year - the change of coach, further strife off the field, and an international tournament which promised so much but once more delivered so little. A promising World Cup qualifying campaign under Didier Deschamps has again alluded much interest - with a 1-1 draw against champions Spain in October being the benchmark for a positive performance tonight.
Well, 2012 has been rather kind to Italy, more so than France. The Azzurri might've won just five of their 12 games in this calendar year, but a stunning Euro 2012 campaign which ended in defeat to Spain in the final has hopefully provided the catalyst for a more productive 2013. The next generation of stars such as Stephan El Shaarawy will be hoping to make an impact ahead of further competitive football in the new year.
I'm Mohammed Ali, and I'll be bringing you live minute-by-minute updates from events unfolding in Parma this evening, as France look for their first friendly victory away in the peninsula since 1994. You can, as always, get involved with your predictions, comments and opinions via Twitter to @mohammedali_93.
Good evening! Buonasera! Bonsoir! And welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! coverage of the international friendly between Italy and rivals France at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma. It sure is expected to be a thrilling final international game of 2012.
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