Italy vs USA Preview

Italy need a win to bounce back from the disappointment of last week's loss to Ireland. Things just never really clicked for Italy forwards were not running into the right holes and the seemed to be no enthusiasm in defence, even when chasing the game. Overall it was a very lethargic performance from the Azzuri.

The stats show that Italy were poor in possession; 27 out of 38 sets completed, 52% possession and only 2 line breaks in the 80 minutes. The Italians did however produce 13 offloads, which in hindsight, look a lot like a team that panicked in possession of the ball.

The U.S didn't have an easy opener to the tournament, an 11 try baptism of fire, against a very strong Fijian side. The Tomahawks allowed themselves to be played out this game, 55 missed tackles and 10 errors, giving the Fijians a much too easy platform to turn this game into a 46 point routing.

This will have to be improved upon to even stand half a chance of dealing Italy what could be the fatal blow to their World Cup.

Italy: The Italians did not show up last week, it's that simple, no threat in attack, no presence in defence, it was the definition of a lack luster performance. Campese will look to set this right against the USA, Ghietti will partner him in the middle, I firmly believe that this will bring better structure to the Azzuri's attack force.

Minichello and Vaughan were the only players in Italy's forward pack that showed any real elements of danger, both men put in a lot drives but were unfortunately unable to make any line breaks, in fact not a single Italian forward was able to create a hole in the Irish defence.

Italy will definitely come out fighting, to keep their chances of a quarter final spot alive, they will spread the ball about much more in this game and utilise Mantellato and Cerutto more against the USA as they seemed a stronger team when using them.

USA: The Tomahawk's intensity was good, but unfortunately faded as the first half went on. The match stats make grim reading for fans, players and coaching staff, in particular their attacking stats. I know everyone's immediate response "they spent the whole game defending" that is incorrect, the USA had 48% of the possession, 41 runs less than Fiji, 7 less sets than Fiji, but the big difference was efficiency.

The USA only made 830 metres attacking and only 1 player broke the 100 metre mark. America have to improve attacking to play Italy out of this game, one up Rugby will not break Italy down, there were options out the back every time, but instead of being creative it was a predictable flat ball at the line.

The US should consider using their backs more, as when they did they looked a far better side for it, creating gaps, using the width of the pitch and even line breaks. The USA will use Ireland for inspiration, a side that was written off facing the Italians, but last week proved they do have weaknesses that can be exploited and could lead to an underdog victory.

Conclusion: Last week taught me "don't write off an underdog" but unfortunately I'm going to have to back Italy again for this one. Despite talk of disharmony in the Azzuri camp, i think they will be better organised this week and will give the fans the performance they are owed from last week's disappointment.

The US will have to offer more in attack as i feel that if Italy can rack up points, they will be able to phase the USA slowly but surely out of the game. I'm calling this one Italy by a minimum of 24.



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