Italy draw with Switzerland in final World Cup warm-up

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Italy flounder once again in their World Cup preparations
andrea pirlo

Italy are sweating over Andrea Pirlo's fitness (Photo: Ming-Yueh Wang)

Italy floundered once again in their World Cup preparations as they struggled to a 1-1 draw against an organised Switzerland side.

Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Switzerland started strongly with Gokhan Inler, who plays in Serie A with Udinese, jinxing past two Italian defenders and unleashing a ferocious drive past Federico Marchetti to give the Swiss an early 9th minute lead.

Marcello Lippi had made the late decision to include Fabio Quagliarella, who was once a Manchester United target, in his 23-man squad and the inclusion paid dividends as the Napoli striker levelled the game within four minutes.

Hitzfeld will have been the more pleased of the two experienced managers at the final whistle. Despite Switzerland’s recent shock defeat to Costa Rica, they outplayed the reigning world champions for large portions of the game.

Quagliarella’s performance was, however, one positive note for the Italians. The 27-year-old looked dangerous up front and it is his versatility that was clearly a crucial factor in Lippi’s decision to bring him to South Africa.

Equally adept at playing across the front line or behind a target man, Quagliarella could prove crucial should Italy continue their patchy form in front of goal.

But his inclusion was a somewhat of a controversial decision with big names such as AC Milan’s Marco Borriello and Villarreal’s Giuseppe Rossi left out of the final squad.

Meanwhile, the Italian nation is fretting over the fitness of midfield linchpin Andrea Pirlo, who is suffering from a calf injury and is expected to require at least 15 days recovery time.

Lippi has thus far stubbornly refused to withdraw Pirlo. The manager’s reluctance is understandable as the midfielder, who boasts 66 caps, brings undeniable experience and flair to the squad.

The deadline for any changes to World Cup squads is 13 June.

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