Italy 2-2 Brazil: Player Ratings
Brazil took the lead against the run of play when Fred arrived in space at the back post and controlled his volley past Gianluigi Buffon, after the half-hour mark.
The Seleção then doubled their lead with a stunning counter-attack, instigated and finished off by Oscar, leaving the Azzurri a mountain to climb at half-time.
Forza Italian Football looks at the players who took to the field and their performances.
Gigi was faultless for both of the Brazilian goals. Reliable as ever despite a wayward moment when he put Maggio under pressure with an over exuberant cross-field pass. The Azzurri captain will join Paolo Maldini as the second most capped Italian player of all time, behind Fabio Cannavaro, should he play in next week’s World Cup 2014 qualifier against Malta.
The Napoli man worked tirelessly and had one of his best games for Italy. He should have scored when picked out by Pirlo’s trademark defence-splitting pass, but at least the full-back was there to miss it. It was a very encouraging performance from Maggio, who has previously failed to reproduce his club form on the international scene.
Bonucci had a great opportunity to win the game when he glanced his header wide of the far post. As an Italian centre-back though, it is more important to be dependable at the back. There were no concerns over Bonucci’s ability to defend here.
Another flawless display from the Bianconeri’s other centre-back. Barzagli showed his world-class ability on and off the ball, keeping the Brazilian attackers at bay.
If the debutant wasn’t fully responsible for the first goal, he was most certainly culpable for the second: losing the ball and then failing to recover his position. The full-back has had a promising season with AC Milan and deserved recognition. Still, with the options available at left-back, a questionable selection for this type of opponent.
The Roman warrior helped drag the Azzurri back into the game with an acute finish from El Shaarawy’s corner. That’s now 14 International goals for De Rossi, second only to Alberto Gilardino in the current set-up.
Without a recognized fantasista, il metronome was burdened with much of the creative responsibilities in the first half, before being substituted. His pass to Maggio, was reminiscent of his audacious pass which led to Fabio Grosso’s incorrectly disallowed goal at the Emirates, when Brazil defeated Italy 2-0. And though Italy trailed by the same margin when Pirlo left the pitch, it was despite another display of quality from Italy’s number 21.
Giaccherini worked tirelessly and gave a Giaccherini-like performance. We should hardly blame him for being picked to play in an area of the pitch that he has no business being selected for. The trequartista role is where Prandelli has tinkered the most in his team selections: il mister likes to use this area of the pitch to apply pressure on the opposition, to prevent them from having time on the ball in deep midfield areas. To be fair it worked and Italy played a great game. Nevertheless, attacks broke down at the feet of the versatile Juve-man.
Montolivo has been reborn at Milan, following his move from Florence. He is Prandelli’s preferred trequartista, a position he has evolved into. However, with Claudio Marchisio absent with a fever, Monte was back in his preferred central midfield position, and continued the fine form he has shown for the Rossoneri.
AC Milan’s “man on fire” put in one of his finest displays in an Azzurri shirt. Whether it was holding the ball up, playing intricate passes to his team mates, or breaching the Brazilian defence, Mario was exceptional. His goal was like something taken out of a comic book, an outstanding long-range strike which may become his trademark, considering his strikes against Poland and Germany. He did fail to give the Azzurri the lead with two golden opportunities after his equaliser, however, Julio Cesar and Dante deserve credit for their resolve. It is performances like this why he is known as Super Mario Balotelli.
This was a great opportunity for the Romanista to make a name for himself in the national team, especially with the form Balotelli was in. Sadly Osvaldo disappointed before being replaced by El Shaarawy at the break. His effort that was tipped around the post by Cesar was a rare highlight for Italy’s “hopefully temporary” number ten.
The Genoa defender saw little of the ball after replacing De Sciglio for the last 15 minutes, and will presumably sleep better than the Milan full-back. The 26-year-old was making just his second appearance for la Nazionale, and will be in contention to start against Malta, in the World Cup 2014 qualifier next week.
When il Faraone is not shooting at goal his influence in attack is somewhat limited. He was an improvement to Osvaldo though and can claim an assist from his corner which found De Rossi, whilst another El Shaarawy corner was headed wide by Bonucci. A much improved display for the the Azzurri, after his toothless performance against Holland.
The Bologna captain replaced the injured Daniele De Rossi for the final ten minutes. He took possibly the worst free-kick seen this season in his late cameo appearance. Ironically, this is one of his best assets, but he made amends by delivering an inviting set-piece at the death which Italy failed to capitalise on.
The World Cup 2006 winner replaced Balotelli for the final minutes, and showed his value to Prandelli’s set-up. In his brief appearance, the ball reached him twice and both times he held it up capably. Il mister knows Gilardino from his days at Parma and Fiorentina when the striker was one of the most valuable commodities in Serie A. He may not be that dangerous at present, however Alberto can still play a role for Italy.
The Sampdoria youngster arrived in the high-tempo fixture, with over 20 minutes to play for Giaccherini, earning just his second international cap. Despite failing to make a significant impact on the game, Poli worked hard, was economical in possession and left his mark on Hernanes, who had left plenty of marks all over Balotelli.
Alessio Cerci – 7
Cerci made the greatest impact of all the substitutes and can be thoroughly proud of his first senior International cap. His assist to Mario could have won the game for Italy, but for a last ditch block by Dante. The Torino winger is a willing runner, who offers Prandelli a different option tactically, and will surely be invited to future Azzurri camps.
It was an impressive performance from Italy, who tactically dominated a Brazilian team struggling to find their identity. However, the decision to give Mattia De Sciglio his debut ultimately cost the Azzurri victory over the Seleção, which their fans have waited over three decades for.