An Italian side weakened by the loss of key playmaker Andrea Pirlo to a leg injury struggled to compete in a 4-2 loss against Brazil in the group stage of the Confederations Cup.
While football is a team sport and no one player makes a team, the Italians looked disorganised without Pirlo’s leadership as they finished the first half down 1-0 without creating any real scoring opportunities or posing any sort of offensive threat.
The second half did provide Italy with a quick equaliser courtesy of an inspiring flick from Mario Balotelli followed by a solid finish from Emanuele Giaccherini but Brazil answered back quickly with a Neymar free-kick hitting the back of the net only minutes later.
A controversial Giorgio Chiellini goal - following a shocking display by referee Ravshan Irmatov - brought Italy back to within one goal of Brazil who took a 3-1 lead from the foot of striker Fred but Italy never looked like challenging for the win.
While this group match-up counted for little with the semi-final pairings already set in stone, it was an opportunity for the Italian side to prove that their team is not reliant on any one player to function in top level competition.
They instead succeeded in showing the world just how vulnerable they are without Pirlo’s guidance and ability to set up goals.
With a semi-final match against Spain this week, Italy will be praying that their golden boy is back on the pitch.
If they remain without Pirlo this week, Italy may find themselves just as embarrassed as they were in the 2010 World Cup when the returning champions failed to secure a win against massive underdogs New Zealand - in what was only the second appearance for the Oceanic team in World Cup finals competition.
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