Italy vs. USA Preview and Pick

Italy vs. USA Confederations Cup Preview and Pick 3:30 PM ET Monday June 15, 2009

by Jason Green of

On Monday night in the opening game for both teams in the Confederations Cup the USA takes on Italy. Italy will be making their first appearance in the Confederations Cup and they will be taking on a USA team that gave them fits in the last World Cup. In Germany in 2006 the Americans played solid and Italy did not, as they were lucky to get out of that game with a 1-1 draw.

Italy is in pretty good shape in qualifying for the World Cup, as they lead their group play, but all has not been rosy with the team since they won in Germany back in 2006. They were crushed by Holland in group play in the European Champions last year and eventually lost to eventual champion Spain in the quarterfinals. Luckily the Italians are in one of the weaker groups in World Cup qualifying for the European region. Even though they should qualify for the World Cup, barring a major meltdown their recent loss to Brazil in a friendly showed the Italians are not in the best form.

USA is making their 3rd appearance in the Confederations Cup and they are playing well as of late. They will probably qualify for the World Cup, as they are in second in their group and only trail Costa Rica by a single point. The Americans can head to South Africa with a ton of confidence if they have a solid showing at this tournament.

The bad news for both teams if that this group is the toughest in the tournament, as besides the USA and Italy, the other teams in the group are Brazil and an up and coming Egypt team.

Italy is the favorite in this match posted at 1.65 with the USA at 5.3 and a draw at 3.50 with a total of 2.5.

USA Recent Form:

6/6/2009 USA 2 Honduras 1 (WC Qualifying)
3/6/2009 Costa Rica 3 USA 1 (WC Qualifying)
4/1/2009 USA 3 Trinidad and Tobago 0 (WC Qualifying)
3/28/2009 El Salvador 2 USA 2
2/11/2009 USA 2 Mexico 0

Italy Recent Form

6/10/2009 Italy 4 New Zealand 3 (Friendly)
6/6/2009 Italy 3 Northern Ireland 0 (Friendly)
4/1/2009 Italy 1 Ireland 1 (WC Qualifying)
3/28/2009 Montenegro 0 Italy 2 (WC Qualifying)
2/10/2009 Brazil 2 Italy 0 (Friendly)

USA is relatively healthy for this match, but Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro will not play die to a calf injury.

Since this group is so tough it will be very hard for America to qualify for the playoffs. Beating Brazil will be very hard for the US, so they will need, at least, a draw in this game.

Bruce Arena’s team may play a defensive game in order to try to keep this game a low scoring one, which will make a draw more likely. The Americans will probably play a 4-4-2 in this match and the Italians will probably play a 4-3-3.

Landon Donovan will be counted on to put some pressure on Italy and if he is slowed on the offensive attack the Americans will have a tough time finding the back of the net.

It will be that much more difficult for USA to score, as Gianluigi Buffon should get the start in goal for Italy.

There will be a lot of pressure in this tournament on Italy forward Alberto Gilardino, who scored 19 goals in the Italian Series A this season for Fiorentina. However, in big games he is a question mark.

USA goalie Tim Howard, who plays for Everton in the Premier League, has to have a good game in goal against an attacking Italian squad.

Gattuso, Buffon, and Pirlo are still playing for Italy, but there are many new faces on the Italian side. Italy started out playing poorly in their WC qualifying games, but their young squad along with their veterans may be starting to gel and this tournament is important to them.

Jason’s Pick: Even though USA will play a defensive game the Italians simply have too much talent on their squad. Look for Italy to break through the American’s defense and score a goal or two, while their defense will keep USA from scoring. I see a 1-0 or 2-0 win for Italy in this game.