In goal for the Azzurrini Casadei (9′), Baldanzi (38′) and Francesco Esposito (46′). Torres scored the South American goal in the 49th minute
Beautiful, concrete, authorized to dream: Italy is in the semifinals of the U20 World Cup. Goal achieved for the third consecutive edition, thanks to a clear 3-1 win over Colombia. And this time – unlike what happened in the previous two – the goal is to go further: on Thursday in La Plata (11 pm Italian time) we will find the winner of South Korea-Nigeria (the Africans were the only ones to beat us, in the group) . An eye also ends up on the other side of the scoreboard: Brazil is gone, eliminated by Israel’s U19 European runners-up. The planets have aligned favorably, it would be a shame not to believe it. Also because this team, built last minute, is proving to be really strong: the usual Casadei scores, as well as Baldanzi and Esposito. Nunziata, right now, isn’t making a mistake.
What is striking is the second consecutive exclusion of Pafundi, with Baldanzi behind the more structured couple, Esposito-Ambrosino. It works, why change? With Faticanti at rest due to muscle fatigue, midfielder Prati takes charge at the bottom and Captain Giovane returns to midfield, in the position in which he played most of the Serie B games with Ascoli. Colombia, on the other hand, is the same that slapped Slovakia (5-1) in the round of 16, proving to be an athletic and vertical team even if not waterproof behind. And we notice it right away.
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On the first blue corner, beaten by Baldanzi, the marking on Casadei is too cheerful: winning header and Italy immediately ahead, with the sixth goal (and third from a corner) by the top scorer of the World Cup. As a midfielder, the former Inter player scored one goal more than Marcos Leonardo, the celebrated Brazil striker who has already returned home. There’s more: no Italian has ever scored so much in an U20 World Cup, given that the previous record was held by Riccardo Orsolini as best scorer in 2017. The Colombian reaction comes, also because from the frontline forward our opponents have an engine that speed up quickly: Manyoma succeeded first in shooting from inside the area, then the left-handed center forward Angel (father Pablo’s son in the art). However, Italy holds up without worries even when it has to defend itself low, benefiting from the solidity of the returning Ghilardi. And, at the first useful opportunity, we go back to hurting: Giovane’s cross from the left, Casadei still towers in the area with a sumptuous bank for Baldanzi, invited to double (and his second consecutive goal) which does not fail. With this set-up, a playmaker behind two pure strikers – albeit very mobile – Italy’s offensive system gives the idea of making the most of it, also facilitating the incursions of the midfielders.
After a perfect first half, Italy chased away the temptation to relax and bite ferociously after returning from the locker room. Just 2′ went by when Baldanzi hits the back and triggers Esposito, who invents a backheel masterpiece at the near post: 3-0 and certification of the Azzurri’s domination, a feat freely inspired by Hernan Crespo’s famous backheel goal against Juventus. The trio of blue takes the brakes off the match: Colombia shortens with Torres after an insistent action, the answer is yet another assist from a demon-possessed Baldanzi for the head of Casadei who this time finds the post. Desplanches (57′) had to relax after an acceleration from Angel, good at unleashing his left foot in the area. And Italy thus understands how another game has begun, in which to grit one’s teeth physiologically a little. We showed we know how to do it, making ourselves dangerous anyway with two attempts by Montevago. Under whose turn it is now.
June 4, 2023 (change June 4, 2023 | 01:13)
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