Sunday, June 18, 2006

Italy v USA, ITV1

"Group E is now wide open" apparently, and Gabby's here to talk up an Italian team featuring Luca Toni, who despite his lack of action so far has, she reminds us, "scored 30 goals in Serie A and you just don't do that" "No, 31 goals..." Sam Allardyce perhaps unwittingly retorts. After a TalkSport advert which makes as much sense as you'd imagine it does we get to Peter Drury, and he doesn't waste a moment. "What a beautiful blend of friendship and patriotism we have here" is his opening gambit, followed by a tortuous comparison between New York Italians and how "this town, Kaiserslautern, is home to thousands of Americans", and a spot of misty-eyed romanticism over the apparent lack of segregation. Already you wish the red button did more than show news and competitions.

In this "clash of Azzurri stars and stripes" which, oh good god, has been given special Budweiser trails, David Pleat can only make the helpful suggestion that "it's important they make a challenge on Luca Toni every time the ball comes over in the air". You think so, do you? Possibly spurred on by such beverage self-depreciation Drury seemingly still cannot get his head around the idea of Americans playing football, at one point claiming Clint Dempsey is "a freestyle rapper. Whatever that means. They've certainly found a beat in this game." Do you see? And then, "in by Pirlo, 1-0!" "The first Azzuri thrust brings about the first Azzuri goal" Drury logically if uncomfortably states, but before we could take it in, "against Bocanegra - it's an own goal! Zaccardo has sliced one into his own net!" Apparently he "couldn't do this again if he tried a hundred times". A couple of goals down, it was time for everything else to kick off - "McBride's gone down, it was an elbow, and it results in the dismissal of De Rossi! And now they're up against it - they went out of the last World Cup in a shambles." It's still 1-1, Peter, and they couldn't be eliminated tonight in any case. Pleat doesn't seem to realise the actual score either, reckoning it "could be a defining moment now". As Drury forgets the scheme of things and declares "the USA have the chance to utilise what they would call in ice hockey a powerplay" we see McBride's blood splattered face and kit, as apparently "he has a star on his shirt now". Italy are still trying hard but with little success, Drury reckoning Zambrotta "was a yard or two ahead of himself", before the referee gets involved again - "And he's off! And we're all square again." Drury is completely shocked while David tautologically feels he's been "slightly harshly treated". Drury does eventually make a case on the replay for the decision only to receive a lengthy lecture about some sort of on-pitch etiquette from Pleat which eventually causes him to admit "I'm just saying I can see why the referee did it", possibly while gnawing his own arm off, or crying. "You're not bored, I'm pretty sure of that" is his summation at half-time, which is almost completely taken up by a chat with Steven Gerrard.

"But he already has a yellow card! He already has a yellow card! And he's off!" Drury's superb change of surprise expression pace means the second half starts much as the first ended, with an American trudging off. For some reason, perhaps having confused himself enough, just four minutes into the second half with one red card already issued Peter starts listing famous Italian-Americans, apparently/hopefully off the top of his head. Rocky Marciano gets a mention. The US are closing down the game which means more prevarication from Drury of the type that leads him to state "every seat is filled in the stand - there are one or two gaps on the field" as the announcer gives the attendance figure. Then, DaMarcus Beasley smacks the ball in, but McBride is adjudged offside. Drury's reaction, verbatim: "Beasley! Equaliser! No! No! Flag is up! Bad news for you! Bad news for you!" Where to start? Well, with the 'equaliser!' declaration when the onscreen display had already briefly changed to 2-1, for a start. David sees the attack minded option coming as a result of a formation change by necessity, stating "4-2-3, the States are playing". They've snuck another player on? Kasey Keller's save from Del Piero is adjudged "the hand that kept the USA in the World Cup", again even though a defeat wouldn't have necessarily put them out. Clearly the Americans hadn't been patronised in a while, so Drury sets about it with gusto, claiming that "soccer" (deliberate Americanised pronunciation) is a "minority sport in the US...not enough happens". As Italy press Pleat amends his tactical observation to "8-0! Eight men in the last 30 yards", which seems to not include the keeper. "What drama! What a game!" is Drury's breathless finish, claiming it was "extraordinary hostile - no Saturday night feature film will have as many twists and turns, as much blood and thunder", then losing it as he weighs up the "various human stories" and "breathless plots and subplots". Yes, and you provided some of them.

What we've learned: there's a lot of lesser teams getting a lot of gritty draws so far; for a game with three sendings off, all of which could be justified, it wasn't very dirty; Peter Drury and David Pleat are still coming up with the goods.


Blogger skif said...

"Pleat amends his tactical observation to "8-0! Eight men in the last 30 yards", which seems to not include the keeper.:

After Drury pointed out the lack of a keeper in his formation, Pleat's stumbling attempts to cover his error, ultimately ending in him cutting himself off halfway through a sentence, was for me the funniest moment of the tournament so far. Unwitting genius.

10:31 am, June 20, 2006


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