Saturday, July 01, 2006

Italy v Ukraine, BBC1

"The World Cup first timers against the country that's been there, seen it, done it, bought the referee. Allegedly." Ooh, he's off already, is Gary, even if you could argue it's not exactly the most tasteful statement after Pessotto's fall. The opening montage riffs on 'Italy has...' and 'Ukraine has...' in terms of history and achievement, so understandably it's more solid on the former. The highlights from earlier are, obviously, most worthwhile when we get to the ruckus, especially Mick McCarthy's almost gleeful "the big defender, 17, has had a big altercation...he's kicked him right in the groin!" While Alan ruefully recalls how he thought he could at last write off the Germans Leonardo attributes it to "a big mistake of the coach". Interestingly Hansen isn't keen on the potential of Italy-Germany, leaving Gary to pick up the pieces as best he dare with "don't completely write it off, just before the World Cup (in a friendly) it was....0-0". Martin's hoping Ukraine can come good on the night as last time "they bored the pants off everybody", imagining the coach cajoling "for heaven's sake, let's give it a go".

"You may see some empty seats" admits Pearce, all but blaming people staying in the fan parks. Well, you would at those prices. Oddly Mark Bright reckons the earlier result was "the biggest upset" of the competition, not stating whether this could threaten it. After six minutes, that looks very unlikely. "Zambrotta...ah. It's in!" Pearce is seemingly genuinely surprised to see it hit the net, while Bright's only thought is "I'm not sure the positioning was right here", adding on the replay "for me he should have been pushing that round the post". Mark still sees Ukraine as having possibilities here, suggesting "they need to draw Italy out, play some balls to feet", but nobody there looks even remotely like doing so. Pearce takes the time to pass on crucial information - "a John Terry fan, is Rusol" - and wonder if "they'll talk for years and years" about the penalty against Australia. They're barely talking about it now, Jonathan. He then finds a new bugbear as Totti goes down "crumpled at the feet of Rusol - I wonder if the new pitch was to blame there." It's not something he ever seems to return to, largely because the game is as stagnant as you'd expect Italy against Ukraine would be when the former have gone one up very early. "They've got no idea how to break Italy down whatsoever" surmises Bright, who goes on to find amusement in painkilling spray, remarking "what's that? Looks like dry ice!" "Italy have not looked in any danger" is how Pearce sums up the first 45 minutes.

"Don't you just love it when the Italians take an early lead?" Gary wryly leads before pointing out what we can see behind him: "it's not very good, but what a beautiful sunset behind us!" "That's the highlight, that sunset" Alan agrees as everyone ascertains that it could have been better, let's say. Leonardo at least points out the extra space the Italian midfield are being given, but O'Neill's off on one, countering "you can do what you want when you play against the Ukrainians", describing their performance as so listless "their plane must be parked up on the tarmac outside the ground". He then really loses it trying to mark out the great Italian cliche, telling all "in another life I wish I'd been born in Rome or Naples...Pompey thought 'hey, we'll invent the offside here'", disappearing on his own tangents and ending with "what are we on about?" as Leonardo valiantly tries to pick him up on his defensiveness suggestions while Alan seemingly wonders where he is. "I hate to drag you away from this game..." Gary reassures us before the long plugged on the BBC website blog England/Germany take on the Renault Clio ad starring Adrian Chiles and some woman. News then comes through of Jose Pekerman's resignation, enabling Gary to use a line he must have been dying to get in since the tournament started: "the former taxi driver earned a reported £100,000 a year but could have earned double that if he'd been prepared to go south of the river". No reaction in the studio, obviously. We then get shots from Kiev city centre, Gary interpreting some flares as "seems like someone might have started a fire there" and predicting, oddly, "Ukraine is about to get its first open top bus ride". "I'd just like to see Buffon make one save" is Alan's hope for the second half.

At least Jonathan and Mark get early entertainment as Cannavaro kicked down - "Hit him in the face?" "Not quite!" "Hoo hoo hoo!" "That'll be a couple of minutes" Bright perhaps too accurately guesses. Indeed, they even get a Ukrainian attack soon enough, Pearce exclaiming "Buffon *has* had to make a save, and he's hurt himself in doing so". It's not good enough to stop his reminding us of Shevchenko's pre-tournament odds for the Golden Boot, summarising "I think that's Freddie Shevchenko who plays for Truro". Soon Ukraine nearly make him think again, Pearce having to admit "Italy living dangerously!" after a double save, but within a couple of minutes "far post, it was in there...and Luca Toni! Gets his goal!" It's commemorated by Pearce almost as well as an England goal, Bright instead cautioning "you should never be that side as a defender". "How close is he behind Klose now, for top scorer? Too far" is Pearce's still waspish thought, Bright still cautious that "at 1-0 you're never out of it", but soon enough it's 3-0, "a cruise into the semi-finals" according to Bright. "There was really only one team in this" is how Pearce finishes off.

Even Alan is relatively interested when we go back to the studio, Martin providing a handy summary that "it's not the best Italy team in a World Cup but it doesn't matter, they're doing well enough". Leonardo is quietly impressed, even remarking "it's Italian style - I like that" over footage of Totti throwing a water bottle at his colleague. You'd think he played there or something. "You have to fancy the Germans - they're on a roll" is what Hansen still reckons before we finish on England and an odd lengthy slo-mo England closing montage which uses Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah and Joy Division's Atmosphere. Cheery, then.


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