Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two out of three ain't bad. Or is it?

I'm going to be honest here, I am facing one of my worst-case footballing scenarios on 17 November. Scotland take on Italy at Hampden with the home side needing a win to guarantee qualification while the Azzurri have two results out of three potentially in their favour (assuming they go on to beat the Faroe Islands).

I had always hoped to avoid this position. In my ideal Scottish-Italian world both teams would go through but it would take Ukraine beating France and a draw in Glasgow to achieve that. Frankly, it is not a combination of results I see as very likely.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have divided loyalties. I want Italy to get through - simple as that. But I wish it was not at Scotland's expense. The build-up to the game will be unbearable and the aftermath, if Alex McLeish masterminds a win, would be unthinkably painful. It is one thing to be hurting on your own (I've done enough of that in my time as an Italy fan). It is quite another to be miserable while all about you are in a state of delirium.

My football intellect reassures me. Player for player Italy are superior to Scotland in every department. Historically, too, there is no comparison. And yet over the years I have suffered enough setbacks to know that being the best on paper is no guarantee of anything.

That is where the worries set in. I often gripe about the English press being the main problem with the England team but there are sections in Scotland which are just as bad. They are just as prone to outlandish claims for their players and stereotyping foreign opposition. If I could have a penny for every time Italy are cast as defensive, play-acting and cynical in the build up to this match I would not be as poor as I am now. To be fair, it strikes me that the media around the world indulges more and more in this pre-match hype nonsense which gets in the way of enjoying the game.

Still, come 17 November I will have to pin my colours to the mast once more. Just as I have since I was a little boy in a Scottish primary school pretending to be Paolo Rossi (hence the picture above) when everyone about me wanted to be Kenny Dalglish. I took it on the chin when Liverpool were lording it over Italian sides in Europe. I hope that I don't have to do it again in a few weeks time.


martinobhoy said...

You honestly rate Luca Toni above Kenny Miller? ;o)

Anyhoo it's tough for me too old boy and I'm just some adopted Italian like Robert Duvall in the Godfather.

I wish it didn't have to be one of the two of us getting through but that's the way it is looking although a draw at Hampden is quite a likely outcome when you look at past results between the two in Scotland. However even then I'd still bet France to get something in the Ukraine.

Aussie Romanista said...

For me it was Kaiserslautern, last years' world cup 2nd round Italy v Australia. I was trying to be neutral with both countries' flags draped over the shoulders, but come kick off time I knew there was only one team I wanted to win, and it wasn't the green and gold of the sea of fans I was in the middle of. I kept quiet the whole match but inside I was praying for us (Italy) to score and doing cartwheels when Totti did. In the end we won but i wish it didn't have to be so controversial so that all the media and soccer-ignorant people in Australia didn't have to give us shit forever, and so I didn't have to explain why it was a penalty and how you have to tackle cleanly in the area etc etc. They don't get it here, but they agree they'd have liked it to happen at the opposite end of the pitch. There's no doubt for me that it was a legitimate penalty from a pathetic excuse for a tackle.
Anyway the experience has left me knowing never to be confused about who to support again. Well I never really was, but I tried to be. And tried to be neutral, but you just can't do it. If I could go back I'd only take one flag. In the end there is and only ever will be the Azzurri and everyone else just makes up the numbers.
Forza Italia !!!!

Red said...

I think it's sweet that you feel so strongly for Scotland. I assume Scotland is your adopted country in the same way England is mine?

If Italy was playing England, I would have absolutely no qualms: I'd want to see England slaughtered! No pity.

ginkers said...


Its not nice feeling conflicted, its mostly the build-up to the game I am not looking forward to.


Sometimes you need to go into the cauldron of battle to know which side you are on. You can't rule what it in your heart.


I'm not really that nice, I just can't stand the thought of all the grief I will have to put up with whatever way the result goes.

TrentToffee said...

Great post Ginkers. So many good points well made.

"I often gripe about the English press being the main problem with the England team..."

It goes further than that with English football. It comes down to technically deficient players, and technically and tactically poor managers. At the moment I'm enjoying Luca Vialli`s The Italian Job. If you haven't read it yet then you must !! He brilliantly deconstructs the difference between the British/Italian football cultures. To me there's no doubting whose is the superior. I only hope that more English coaches read it, and learn from it. Generally speaking the press - anywhere - are, erm, poor. Especially this twunt

but here he makes some good points. Personally I think that he asked Gabrielle Marcotti to write this article for him because it's a good piece, and Samuel generally writes crap.

"To be fair, it strikes me that the media around the world indulges more and more in this pre-match hype nonsense which gets in the way of enjoying the game."

Amen to that brother.

"I took it on the chin when..."

To be honest come the 18th Nov I don't think you'll be taking it on the chin.
But, by bedtime tomorrow night I think I shall. Before the RWC 2007 started I tipped SA to win it and I'm not going to change my mind now. It won't be a 36 point drubbing like 3 weeks ago, but the Boks are at least 10 points better than England. I just hope it's thriller and we go down bravely. My boys are battlers !! unlike you Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard...

ginkers said...

Cheers Trent. You too make some fine points! The troubles with the England national team do run deep, but what makes them disliked north of the border has much to do with the pundits.

As for the rugby world cup, I admit I have little interest but I wish you all the best. As long as I don't have to watch Jonny Wilkinson 48,000 times a day!

Pat said...

For me Australia V Italy was easy. The Australian football fraternity is so easy to hate and having grown up following an Italian club, all those heroes(and villains) played for the Azzurri.

Although I can sympathise with your Scotland-Italy dilemma. I think Italy have been great in qualifying apart from the first 2 games where they dropped 5 points. While the football hasn't always been scintillating, theyve managed to take 22 of 24 points and thats generally a sign of a team thats going to do well and I can see Italy qualifying reasonably comfortably in the end.

Its a pity France only need a draw, if it was a must win i feel there would have been a good chance for an upset. France have been really arrogant against the other group contenders and theyve struggled through many of those games. And someone needs to put a muzzle on Domenech, i guess his trying to play mind games or something, but all his done lately is motivate the opposition.

If he really wants to put Italy off he should tell the azzurri they are favourites

Anonymous said...

Update you blog so we can talk about that fantastic goal from Pazzini last night!!!

- Juventino

TrentToffee said...

...I know what you mean about the pundits. They do go way over the top. It seems to me that the BBC make it a policy to only employ idiots, especially for 5-Live. I can't comment on Sky, but I doubt that they can be worse.