Wow...couple this with France finishing last in their group and you will have neither finalist from 4 years ago in the knock out stages. Italy dropped a shocking 3-2 game to Slovakia. Couple this with 2 poor draws, one of which against New Zealand and you have to say that the Italian voyage at this World Cup has been almost as pathetic as the one from Les Bleus. Of course the Italy ship did not have the soap opera that swept over the French camp. So what to make of this squad? First the Italian federation brought back the winning coach - Lippi to steer this side. Might not have been a great idea, look at last year's Confederations Cup, the Italians looked very old and slow. They barely defeated the USA and were thoroughly spanked by Brazil. One of the few shining spots was the New Jersey born Rossi...who did not even make the World Cup roster! Second, the Italians kept many of the "pillars" from the German World Cup - Buffon, Cannavaro, De Rossi, Pirlo and Gattuso. Some of these players were still up to the challenge, but to rely on a player heading to the middle east next season - Cannavaro - to hold up your defense is slightly frightening. Finally the Italians did not seem to offer any real solutions and strategic direction to take the attack to their opponents. The fact that Lippi had been wooing Totti to come to South Africa shows a lack of strategy or forward thinking from Lippi. Sound familiar?
So for the first time in the World Cup, both finalists from the prior World Cup will be out before the knock out stage. What is frightening is I think that France have a better future than Italy in terms of players and manager, assuming France takes care of its issues at the federation level.