Italy – Algeria: Hosts leave winning goal late
This was Italy’s eleventh friendly since the 1988 European Championships, and their World Cup preparational tour had now arrived in the north eastern city of Vicenza. The local football team were plying their trade in Serie C1, the third tier of Italian football, but Vicenza was still a city passionate about football. Notably, it was also where emerging star Roberto Baggio had begun his career, and where the current Fiorentina ace as a teenager had helped Vicenza from Serie C1 to the brink of Serie A.
For Algeria, it was their last test before the return leg in the qualification final against Egypt on 19 November, and a welcome opportunity for new manager Abdelhamid Kermali to transmit his ideas to the team.
Italy team news
Mr Vicini had so far utilized 22 players in his search for the ideal line-up, though it did appear that he had a pretty good idea of which players he wanted in his side, at least for most positions. The left-back spot, a couple of the midfield roles and the job as Vialli’s partner up top seemed to be the debatable bits, although Napoli forward Carnevale by now appeared to be Vicini’s prefered choice alongside gli Azzurri‘s vice captain Vialli. Carnevale would start his fourth successive match, despite having fired a blank against Brazil in their last outing. At left-back, De Agostini would for the second successive match oust Maldini, whereas there was a rare starting berth for the gifted Marocchi in the centre of midfield. Local hero Baggio would win his third straight start, again operating in a somewhat unpredictable role at the head of midfield. Indeed, the only change since the Brazil defeat had been Marocchi in for Berti. The central defensive pairing of Baresi and Ferri would continue their run of successive starts, having featured in every one of their friendlies until now. The same went for Giannini and Vialli.
The visitors were facing a crunch qualifier away to Egypt only six days in the wake of the journey to northern Italy. They had won their qualifying group to set up a two-legged play-off affair with their fellow North Africans, and after a scoreless first leg in Alger, the pressure was on them to get a result in Cairo. For one reason or another, there had been a change of national team manager for les Fennecs: Kamel Lemoui, who had been in charge since taking over after the 1988 African Cup of Nations, where Algeria had finished third after winning the bronze final in a penalty shoot-out against eternal rivals Morocco, had been replaced by Abdelhamid Kermali. The timing seemed profoundly odd, to say the least. Had their FA been so disappointed with the result against Egypt that they could no longer tolerate Lemoui? They had come across as a tight unit, with a goal difference of 13-6 from their previous 14 internationals during 1989. They had only conceded once in five qualifiers, and their sole two defeats since the start of the year had come away to Morocco (1-0) and Sweden (2-0), both friendlies. With the decisive qualifier away to Egypt in such close proximity, one would have expected the new manager to put out his very best team. Their task was to reach a third successive World Cup, a feat never previously achieved by any African nation.
The Algerians arrived with players predominantly based in their domestic league, with the exception of centre-back Amani, who was with Antwerp, one of the top sides in the Belgian league, and of course captain Madjer. The Portugal based forward had scored the equalizer in Porto’s shock European Cup final win against Bayern Munich two and a half years earlier, and was a major name on the international footballing scene, arguably the visitors’ biggest star. Another famous Fennec was attacking midfielder Belloumi, who had scored Algeria’s winner in their shock 2-1 triump against West Germany in the 1982 World Cup. They also contained an up and coming player in 20 year young midfielder Saïb, who would later go on and claim a fine career in French football.
Man in the middle
In charge of this first ever match-up between Italy and Algeria was 37 year old Yugoslavian official Zoran Petrović, definitely a candidate to referee in Italia ’90. Petrović had been in charge of two matches in Mexico ’86: The group stage tie between the hosts and Iraq, as well as the round of 16 clash between Morocco and West Germany. Strangely, he had been overseen for the 1988 European Championships.
|1 Walter Zenga||29||Internazionale|
|2 Giuseppe Bergomi (c)||sub h-t||25||Internazionale|
|3 Luigi De Agostini||28||Juventus|
|4 Franco Baresi||29||AC Milan|
|5 Riccardo Ferri||26||Internazionale|
|6 Giancarlo Marocchi||24||Juventus|
|7 Roberto Baggio||22||Fiorentina|
|8 Fernando De Napoli||sub 51′||25||Napoli|
|9 Gianluca Vialli||25||Sampdoria|
|10 Giuseppe Giannini||25||Roma|
|11 Andrea Carnevale||sub 71′||28||Napoli|
|12 Stefano Tacconi||32||Juventus|
|13 Ciro Ferrara||on h-t||22||Napoli|
|14 Paolo Maldini||21||AC Milan|
|15 Luca Fusi||26||Napoli|
|16 Massimo Crippa||24||Napoli|
|17 Nicola Berti||22||Internazionale|
|18 Roberto Donadoni||on 51′||26||AC Milan|
|19 Aldo Serena||on 71′||29||Internazionale|
|20 Roberto Mancini||24||Sampdoria|
|1 Larbi El-Hadi||28||Boufarik|
|3 Kamel Adjas||37′||28||Sétif|
|4 Ali Benhalima||27||MC Oran|
|5 Djamel Amani||27||Royal Antwerp|
|9 Hamid Rahmani||sub h-t||22||Sétif|
|10 Lakhdar Belloumi||sub 84′||30||MC Oran|
|11 Rabah Madjer (c)||30||Porto|
|14 Tahar Chérif El-Ouazzani||37′||22||MC Oran|
|15 Rachid Adghigh||43′||28||Kabylie|
|17 Moussa Saïb||20||Kabylie|
|20 Fodil Megharia||28||Club Africain|
|12 Dahmane Haffaf||on 84′||31||Kabylie|
|18 Tarek Hadj Adlane||on h-t||23||USM Alger|
|x Mohamed Benabou||26||Relizane|
|x Hadj Amar Chemaâ||28|
|x Moulay Tayeb Foussi||22|
|x Djamel Boudjelti||29|
It could be classified as 4-4-2 or 4-3-1-2. The latter because Baggio was operating in a very liberated role at the helm of the midfield. Giannini was, typically, the central midfielder, with Marocchi running to his left, De Napoli to his right. Bergomi’s contributions going forward were limited, but De Agostini opposite was a big weapon from the left hand side. When Italy wanted to use width along the right, it would usually be provided by Vialli, who was, again, rarely seen through the centre. The formation could even be claimed to be seen as a continuation of the 3-5-2 (5-3-2) that Vicini had deployed against Brazil last time around, as Bergomi at times seemed to form a three man backline along with Baresi and Ferri. The claim against this, though, was the fact that Bergomi more often than not kept width on the right, and De Napoli, who would have been the wide right midfielder in an alledged 3-5-2, acted more as an inside half.
5-3-2. Megharia the spare man, Benhalima and Amani engaged in zonal marking, not typically following a designated opponent around. That said, Benhalima would more often than not come in contact with Carnevale, and Amani would, due to Vialli’s tendency to appear wide right, at times be drawn a bit too far left for comfort. Outside him, Adjas was keen to move forward, with right-back Adghigh comfortably at peace with staying back. El-Ouazzani gave an all-action display as the central midfielder, and he had fine folk around him in Saïb (right) and Belloumi. In a more diffuse role was Rahmani slightly to the left: ahead of midfield, but deeper than captain Madjer. The latter himself not an out and out striker, keen to participate in build-up play. Their formation could also go down as a 5-4-1, depending on how one should see Rahmani’s position.
After 70 mins
Had made one h-t change: Ferrara on for Bergomi, thus providing more attacking power from the back against an opponent of a defensive nature. Vialli took over the captain’s armband. Only a few minutes into the second half, Vicini made a second substitution when he brought on Donadoni for De Napoli. The latter had formed a central midfield three along with Giannini and Marocchi, but Donadoni came on to play wide right. Giannini and Marocchi were left to deal with the centre, Baggio would continue in his more advanced role. Vialli would still come wide, but not just to the right; he was also seen towards the left with greater frequency during the second half. And with the visitors sitting deep, there were opportunities for Baresi to cross the halfway line too. Serena was seen in a straight swap for Carnevale with 20 mins to go. Indeed, one could argue for an Italian switch in formation from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 after the introduction of Donadoni, although Ferrara played more like a full-back than a third centre-half throughout the second half.
Their half-time substitution saw Hadj Adlane on for Rahmani. During the first 45, Rahmani had been appearing towards the left in a midfield cum forward role. The substitute took up a similar role for the final 45, but towards the right rather than left. This would see Madjer switch from right towards the left in the second half. Adjas, the left-back, was less contributive in an attacking sense after the break. Their second substitute, Haffaf, only got a few minutes on the pitch as he replaced Belloumi. Haffaf took to the right-back, with Adghigh pushing on into midfield, where he seemed to take up a right-sided position, something which furthermore pushed Saïb across to an inside left role.
On a sunny afternoon in Vicenza it is the visitors who set the game in motion, and it is clear from the outset that Algeria have a desire to be compact: They will flock together both in the centre of midfield and not least at the heart of the defence to not leave the Italians much space. Furthermore, they are looking to move their feet well in midfield, rarely giving the hosts a lot of time on the ball. This sees Italy, whose starting line-up has left a rather narrow impression, though with room for their full-backs to venture forward and act as wide midfielders should the visitors allow for, engage left-back De Agostini in particular. Along the right hand side is captain Bergomi, who does seem somewhat restricted in his instructions, rarely lending a hand when the hosts are moving forward. Which they do a lot. The early proceedings see the home side with a huge amount of possession.
‘Azeglio ti siamo Vicini’. There are banners on display in support of the national team and of the manager. The manager had more than 20 years earlier had a brief stint in charge of Brescia, his final destination as a player, and who after the 1967/68 season had been relegated from Serie A. That had been Vicini’s sole managerial task at club football level. He had started his work for the FA with the U23s in the mid 70s, moving on to the U21s by ’77. This position he would hold until he was trusted with the first team manager’s job after Italy’s disappointingly early exit at the second round stage in the ’86 World Cup, succeeding the successful Enzo Bearzot who had won them the World Cup in ’82. The run-up to the tournament on home soil the following summer had perhaps not all gone according to plan, and in particular the disappointing showing and subsequent defeat against Brazil in their last outing will have brought out some critics. However, in Vicenza the fans did seem to have a wish to display support for their manager. It was a compact ground, and the atmosphere was not unlike what had been seen in Taranto south in the country for the 4-0 win against Hungary in April. There had been successive 4-0 routs against both the Hungarians and then Bulgaria, but these were two rather vulnerable sides defensively, and so Italy would need to show their mettle against teams of a more solid defensive nature. Such as Algeria, who rarely conceded.
Italy had been using a number of different midfield constellations so far in their friendlies, and this one, with Baggio in front of a trio consisting of Giannini (central), De Napoli and Marocchi did resemble the version which had appeared during the 1-1 draw against Uruguay. The lack of natural width in their midfield was indeed compensated for through the attacking means of De Agostini along the left. The Juventus full-back possessed an excellent left foot, and he did seem as possibly the best crosser of a ball in the Italian squad. He would arrive at quite a few opportunities to test his crossing skills against the Algerians. As was another characteristic about Italy’s forward play, Vialli would typically seek wide areas, often towards the right as Bergomi’s contributions from his full-back position were scant. Algeria had lined up with a five man defence, though their central defenders appeared to mark zonally rather than man to man. However, with Vialli often seen towards the right in attack, he would more often than not engage Amani in battle. Or even left sided defender Adjas.
Algeria’s deep lines
They were strong and resilient, the Algerians, in little mood to allow free-flowing, enterprising football from the hosts. As the right-sided of the three central-defenders, Benhalima would be the player the most in contact with Carnevale. Benhalima (to the right in the picture; Adghigh to his left) was a rugged character, and was a typical no nonsense defender, less cultured than his two compatriots at the heart of the visitors’ defence. Megharia, the libero, would not take out an awful amount of depth, as Algeria simply sat deep with more or less their entire team. Amani would go about his work quietly and effectively. Surprisingly, he would be the first player to have a shot on target as he curled a right-footed effort into the arms of Zenga from 25 yards out following an Algerian counter-attack inside the opening ten minutes. Indeed, the visitors would allow one of their three central defenders to cross the halfway line from time to time, although most of their forward play seemed to be left to the individualism of Belloumi and Madjer.
Despite their dominance in possession, Italy were unable to carve out any clear openings in front of El-Hadi, the visitors’ ‘keeper who had featured in two of Algeria’s three matches in the ’86 World Cup. Credit had to go to the visitors’ defence. There had been an early effort when De Agostini’s free-kick from just outside the penalty area had brought a save from El-Hadi, and in the ensuing confusion just ahead of the ‘keeper, the Italians had failed to take advantage. Baggio, back where he had started his career as a senior player, seemed to play with a lot of enthusiasm, but despite a lot of touches inside the Algerian half, even his exuberance failed to unlock a tight Algerian defence. Baggio would often wander towards the left hand side, and this would see him interact with De Agostini as well as Giannini and Carnevale. Saïb, the youngest player in the visitors’ side, went through a whole lot of ‘dirty’ work to try and deny Baggio space. This was the result of Baggio running into Saïb’s territory rather than the 20 year old being a designated marker. By the halfway point in the first half, the next effort would come from libero Baresi, whose volleyed shot after he had chested the ball down for himself just outside the area ended up in the stand behind El-Hadi. It would often be dangerous when Baresi decided to join in attack, as his presence would create counting errors among the opponents. This effort was elegant, and the shot only cleared the bar by a yard or so.
Belloumi and Madjer
Algeria are little in way of an attacking threat. They rarely manage to string passes together inside Italy’s half, and whatever they muster is a result of combination play between Belloumi and Madjer. The pair had both featured in Algeria’s two most recent World Cup participations, and they had indeed been the goalscorers in that win against West Germany in ’82. Madjer, Algeria’s captain, was supposedly their most forward player, but perhaps was left feeling isolated up front, and so came back into midfield on a number of occasions to try and instigate attacks (pic: Madjer to the right of Ferri and Marocchi). Belloumi, playing with rolled-down socks, possessed a natural aura and a calmness on the ball, but hardly gave the impression of wanting to deliever as much running as the other two midfielders: the youthful Saïb and the tenacious El-Ouazzani. Rahmani, who was more or less locked to his position as a left-sided striker, rarely made an impression on the game, although he did participate in one of the Algerians’ attempt at counter-attacking, an effort which had come to a halt when Saïb’s shot from 25 yards had gone wayward.
Given a number of free-kicks in decent positions just outside the visitors’ penalty area, Italy will let four different takers have a go. De Agostini’s early shot had been parried by El-Hadi, Ferri had had the ball pushed to him by Vialli, though his typical wrist effort had gone straight at the ‘keeper, whilst Baggio had had a disappointing effort straight into the defensive wall. On the half hour mark, Giannini would get his opportunity, and his shot from 23-24 yards did cause the ‘keeper some problems, before El-Hadi could smother the ball at the second attempt, with both Vialli and Carnevale trying to prey on the loose ball. The Algerian goalkeeper was prone to conceding a rebound or two, and had perhaps showed signs of uncertainty when dealing with crosses, but so far he had kept his ground. It was typically from set-piece situations that the home side so far had been able to threaten Algeria. Only on one occasion had they been able to get in behind the visitors’ defence, namely when Baggio had found Vialli, who had got to the byline, but whose cut back had been dealt with well by the recovering defenders.
There had been a number of fouls from the visiting players, though nothing particularly nasty. Yugoslavian referee Petrović kept a decent flow of the game, though just after 36 minutes he felt the need to dish out too bookings in quick succession. The first had gone to tough-tackling left-back Adjas for a foul on Giannini just outside the corner of the penalty area, and as midfielder El-Ouazzani had not wanted to retreat according to the ref’s wish, he too was shown the yellow card. El-Ouazzani was an all-action midfielder with a big engine and a fine desire to be in the thick of the action. He was not bad in possession either, but did possibly lack a bit of physique. Later, there would be a third caution for a visiting player, when right-back Adghigh felled De Agostini out on the wing. The challenge had not seemed particularly bad, but it was perhaps the result of Adghigh’s couple of previous challenges on both Vialli and Carnevale which saw Petrović with a need to produce another yellow.
Goalless at the interval
The first half would run with three additional minutes, and before the half had concluded, Baggio had released De Napoli along the right hand side with a deft heel pass. The Napoli midfielder had not been highly visible during the first 45 minutes, and this did not seem to be the kind of game pattern which suited his play a lot. As he had been released by Baggio, though, he went on to produce a fine cross into the centre, where Vialli was able to rise between Amani and Benhalima. However, the Sampdoria forward could not get properly over the ball, and so his effort ended up well over goal. Despite Italy laying siege on the Algerian half throughout the opening 45 minutes, they had been unable to breach their visitors, and deep into injury time the Italian defence had gone AWOL as Adjas took the ball into their half and found the advancing Belloumi with a clever pass. The midfielder was perhaps surprised by how free he was, and both rushed and scuffed his effort from the edge of the area. 0-0 was still a disappointing half-time score from an Italian perspective. Perhaps would the break bring about changes?
Both managers had made a change during the half time break, with Vicini bringing Napoli defender Ferrara on for his captain Bergomi, a straight swap. The change could have come about because Vicini wanted more attacking contributions from the right-back position. Besides, it was the fifth time in eleven friendlies that Bergomi had been withdrawn; on four occasions Ferrara had been his replacement. So the move was hardly totally unexpected. Vialli would, again, take over the captain’s armband. Kermali, on the other hand, had decided to take off forward Rahmani, a peripheral figure throughout the first half, and replace him with Hadj Adlane, a relatively tall presence. Whereas Rahmani had been seen towards the left in attack, the substitute would take up a more right-sided forward role.
More of the same
The start of the second half is more or less a carbon copy of what had taken place before half time, with the dominant hosts huffing and puffing. The Algerians continued to defend in numbers, and despite the Italians’ silky skills, they were yet unable to break down a resilient defence. The fact that Algeria were sitting as deep as they were proved a challenging obstacle, and though Ferrara had come on to try and push on from the right side of defence, it had so far not yielded any progress.
The composition of the Italian midfield
For whatever reason, Vicini had seemed to move midfield schemer Marocchi from an inside left to an inside right position, thus almost overloading the right hand side with players. Inside right had been De Napoli’s role in the first half, but with Algeria defending so deep, the Napoli ace hardly got to utilize his greatest assets: He was more a combative type of player than a creative one, though he was far from foreign of delievering a fine cross, as had been given evidence of late on in the opening half. De Napoli for the start of the second half had been pushed wide right to accomodate Marocchi inside him. In the previous friendly against Brazil, De Napoli had featured in a right wingback role in Vicini’s attempt at 3-5-2, though here he appeared to be more of a wide midfielder, with Ferrara lending him support from the back. Marocchi had done well in the opening period. Equipped with a fine range of passing, he was comfortable on as well as off the ball. Perhaps had Vicini wanted to bring the Juventus star more into play, and so sought to give him freedom to express himself between Giannini and De Napoli. Before too long, though, De Napoli was taken off and replaced with Donadoni. For all Italy’s dominance, the manager clearly was not 100 % satisfied with how his midfield functioned. They had players with sublime individual skill, yet they at times seemed a bit one-paced; they had players capable of delievering a pass to open up any defence, yet they kept struggling to produce the key moment to unlock Algeria. Donadoni as an outlet wide right could give Adjas, the left-back, more bother. And Carnevale was a striker made for capitalizing from crosses.
The visitors’ substitute
Algeria seemed very content with the way things were going. They had made that one change during the break in bringing on the relatively tall and gangly Hadj Adlane, a move which had left them with a right-sided option in the same way that Rahmani had provided an option down their central left before half time. The substitute did appear a bit nervous early on, as he made a meal of some seemingly easy touches, and it was unclear as to whether he was much of an improvement. As Algeria had not been much of an attacking threat so far, they would continue to rely on individual skill rather than means of their collective for forward progress. Madjer was the key to gaining yards inside Italian territory, but too often he would be isolated, and his bursts on the ball too often lead to nothing. He was, however, quite clearly a player that the Italians respected, and both Ferri and Baresi would reluctantly advance into Algerian territory. Now there was also the presence of Hadj Adlane, and without a lot of defensive fibres to the left of the Italian midfield, he became the joint responsibility of the central defenders and De Agostini. Kermali had realized De Agostini’s desire to bomb ahead at any opportunity, and must have seen in Hadj Adlane the perfect player to expose any vulnerability in these particular bits of Italian tactics.
Italy wished for more width
Adjas had been one of three Algerian names into referee Petrović’ book in the first half, and the defender proved to be a tough tackling player. Only a few minutes into Donadoni’s appearance, Adjas would scythe him down in a tackle which saw both players in need of attention. The left-back did not get hold of the ball, and so must have been walking a tightrope as to whether Petrović had considered a second booking or not. As it were, no cards were dealt on this occasion, and Adjas was spared the ignominy of being showed an early path back to the dressing room. Donadoni did not seem to let the bad tackle get to him, and he would continue to pin himself to the right-sided touchline in order to give Italy some much needed width. Baggio, who was still more or less the left-sided option, continued to be less of a touchline threat as he sought more central areas, preferably in the hole behind the two strikers. And with Donadoni on the pitch, surely Vialli would abandon his desire to wander into the right hand corridors? Not completely. Seeking wide areas was too deeply rooted into Vialli’s mindset for him to just sit down the middle. And even Carnevale had tendencies of moving away from the centre, as he was coming wide to lend Baggio, and De Agostini when he came forward, support. Even Giannini at times orientated himself slightly towards the left after the break. Italy seemed to have the men able to make damage along the flanks, yet they kept struggling to stretch the disciplined visitors.
A trio of home chances
On 59 minutes, Carnevale almost gave Italy the lead with some individual brilliance: He had come back to the centre circle to pick a pass off Marocchi, and without looking up he took the ball forward as he advanced past El-Ouazzani, Belloumi and Megharia, before unleashing a powerful shot from 20 yards which El-Hadi had to beat away for a corner with his left hand. The shot had taken a deflection off Adjas as Carnevale took aim, something which brought the ball nearer to the ‘keeper. Had it not deflected, it would most likely have ended up in the back of the net. This opportunity seemed to spur Italy on, and less than a minute later Baggio would find Donadoni with a deft pass that opened up the Algerian defence. The Milan ace got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Baggio, whose shot with the inside of his right foot from the edge of the area was blocked by El-Hadi once again. The Algerian ‘keeper proved to be a fine shot-stopper. And El-Hadi had to be alert and parry with his feet when Marocchi had taken on a throw from Vialli par with the Algerian penalty area to the right. The midfielder had almost been felled just inside the area by a clumsy Adjas, but he remained on his feet and then proceeded past Benhalima. From a narrow angle he struck a low, venomous shot at goal, and but for the goalkeeper’s save, Italy would have been ahead. Three opportunities within four minutes showed that Italy were turning the screw.
One could be forgiven for thinking that Italy’s second half formation was a version of 3-5-2, as had been seen against Brazil, rather than their traditional 4-4-2, with Ferrara part of a three man back line with Baresi and Ferri, and with De Agostini as the wide left midfielder opposite of Donadoni to the right. However, Baggio’s role was clearly more advanced than Marocchi’s as the inside right, and with Ferrara at times combining with Donadoni along the right, it was a fine balance between formation numbers. It may have been Vicini’s wish to test out 3-5-2 against a less formidable opponent than Brazil. Algeria were undoubtedly at 5-3-2, reluctant to push their wide players high. El-Ouazzani kept giving a fine and tigerish central midfield performance, though Belloumi in the inside left position had almost completely disappeared as a creative force since the break. Even Saïb in the remaining midfield position was largely neutralized, and so any creative inspiration seemed to be up to Madjer and Hadj Adlane. The two forwards would rarely interact, not displaying much of an understanding between them, and they were both relatively easy fodder for the seasoned Italian defence.
With 20 minutes left for play, Vicini decided to take Carnevale off and replace him with the aerially stronger Serena. So, were Italy looking for a bigger number of crosses into the box? They had been able to set De Agostini up into crossing positions from the left, but sadly, the quality in the balls in had been lacking, as the normally so dependable Juventus full-back usually only found an Algerian head with his attempts. Carnevale had been tightly marshalled by the visitors’ defence, though he had shown in glimpses his unorthodox forward style. Perhaps this game picture would better suit a more traditional type of forward? Serena sure had the ability to cause damage in the air, and so far Italy had been unsuccessful in this department against Megharia, Benhalima and Amani. The Internazionale striker came on to make his 14th international appearance.
Had Algeria been lulled into a false sense that they had done what was needed to soak up the home pressure, not sensing that there was still danger in the air? They had switched off in their marking along the left after a quick Baggio throw-in for Donadoni, and after Donadoni had taken Amani for a ride, he played the ball back to the Fiorentina man, who was not closed down on the corner of the area. Baggio proceeded to play a clever ball into the area, behind the Algerian defence, and though there was a hint of offside as no less than three Italians were lined up to convert any cross, the linesman kept his flag down. Both Giannini and Vialli helped the ball on for Serena, who was left unmarked on the far post, and who with a controlled volley guided the ball expertly into the back of the net. The Vicenza ground errupted, and finally gli Azzurri had some just reward for their longstanding pressure. Serena’s team mates came to mob him, and particularly Internazionale colleague Ferri seemed pleased for the striker, whose goal was only his second in the national jersey, and the first since a strike in a defeat to West Germany almost four years earlier. No Algerian seemed to protest against the goal, so the linesman may have made the right decision to keep his flag down.
In the next couple of minutes after the goal, the partizan home crowd sang the Italian national anthem in a “na na na” version, and it was all very lively. The goal sure had brought the fans back to life, after they had initially set off in great fashion, but perhaps faded somewhat since the half time break. They would almost have a second goal to celebrate after something as rare as an incisive Italian break: Donadoni won the ball deep inside his own half, and he played Giannini in in the centre of the pitch. The long haired midfielder advanced quickly ball at feet and made progress into Algerian territory. He had Vialli out to his left, and as the second half captain received the ball, he would cross towards the far post from the corner of the area. Serena came flying in from behind Adjas and connected with a strong header. However, from point blank range the ‘keeper managed to get behind the ball and parry it away for a right wing corner. El-Hadi had been lucky that Serena’s header had more or less come straight at him. The ensuing flag kick saw a second wave where Baggio found Vialli’s head in the centre, but as the striker thought he had scored as he glanced his header in, the referee had been in a good position to cut the celebrations short in signalling for offside.
Any comeback on the cards?
Algeria needed to step it up a notch were they to get anything from the match. They had so far been unable to produce a threat to Zenga, and it never seemed likely that they would go and get an equalizer. They had defended well; solidly. They had been disciplined in the way their defensive performance had been a patient one; they had not fallen for the temptation to commit a lot of men forward at the same time. There had been other Italian scoring opportunities apart from Serena’s goal, so Algeria could hardly complain that they were behind, but they had never embarrassed themselves, and their tight defence had been a challenge for the home side to overcome. In the final ten minutes, they did not cause significant damage to the Italian rear lines, and so Algeria were unable to force a draw. There had been a moment when Madjer had released El-Ouazzani along the left, but with only Hadj Adlane to aim for in the penalty area, it had been an easy task for Zenga to come out and smother the ball low down. Libero Megharia had even attempted a shot from almost 40 yards, and though it only cleared Zenga’s bar by a yard, there was never much danger. Kermali had made a second and final substitution when replacing the disappointing Belloumi with Haffaf, something which brought about some reshuffling, as the substitute went into Adghigh’s right-back position. Adghigh would take up Saïb’s inside right midfield role, with the latter moving across into the position left vacant by Belloumi. Not that it mattered a whole lot. italia1990.com do lack the final couple of minutes of the game. The first half had run through to 48 minutes, though there did not seem to be a lot of reason for Petrović to add a similar number of minutes at the end of the second half.
Algeria came to make it difficult for Italy: Sitting back in numbers and showing a lot of defensive discipline, featuring a spare man behind the centre-back pairing of Benhalima and Amani. Italy had a lack of width which seemed to limit their attacking fluency, although their dominance in possession was almost total throughout. They would bring on Donadoni for more width early in the second half, something which at times aided their cause. The substitute had been instrumental in setting Baggio up for the cross which would eventually seek out Serena, another substitute, on the far post for the only goal of the match. Algeria had been breached, but they could take heart from their performance, and they would need to show an equal amount of sturdiness for their all important trip to Cairo less than a week into the future.
1 Zenga 6.6
difficult to judge as he was more or less without work. Came out to smother El-Ouazzani’s second half cross, which was his most eye-catching involvement
2 Bergomi 6.8
centre-back or right-back, either way he has a quiet half. Gets into a heading position, but is flagged off. Defensively he’s not troubled, but needed to be more contributive in an attacking sense against an opponent with a defensive focus
(13 Ferrara 6.9
again a step up from Bergomi in an attacking sense, as he sought to support Donadoni along the right. Untroubled defensively)
3 De Agostini 7.0
got into a bagful of crossing positions, but the ball in usually let him down. Defensively had to keep an eye on Hadj Adlane second half, but was usually camped inside the Algerian half
4 Baresi 7.1
sets the change of pace in Italian forays so well when he decides to advance into opposition territory. Has a speculative effort on volley first half which clears the bar by a couple of yards. Not tested inside his own half, despite Madjer’s trickery
5 Ferri 6.8
hardly his most difficult game, very quiet. Again stretches the wrist in his favourite free-kick position to the left of target
6 Marocchi 6.9
goes through a lot of running, but is no mean player when in possession. Comes close to scoring with low shot from an angle in the second half
7 Baggio 7.2
back where he begun. At times seemed to try too hard to impress, but again saw opportunities which to the general eye never existed. Disappointing free-kick first half. His positioning made him incredibly difficult for the visitors to pick up
8 De Napoli 6.8
keeps matters fuss free, adds balance to a midfield which has a great forward desire, but is hardly the ideal right-sided outlet in this particular fixture, as he switches between the right and inside right. Taken off for a more attacking wide man
(18 Donadoni 6.8
unspectacular second half performance, but gave Italy better width along the right. Played his part in the goal with his pass for Baggio)
9 Vialli 6.8
the assist for the goal perhaps a tad fortunate, and his finest moment was the cross for Serena which almost brought 2-0. As always wandered into the channels, and took a few kicks along the way
10 Giannini 7.1
takes a whole lot of responsibility in the centre of the park, and has again some fine combinations with others, first and foremost Baggio and Vialli. At times deep, at times more advanced. The latter seems to suit him well
11 Carnevale 7.1
another match where he displays his strengths, which are unorthodox and unpredictable forward play. Very efficient when he decides to be direct, something which tested El-Hadi in the second half. Found his match in the air in Benhalima
(19 Serena –
brings another dimension to the Italian attack with his aerial threat, and comes close to adding to his goal after Vialli’s pass in a surprise Italian counter. Takes his goal coolly)
1 El-Hadi 7.2
his style leaves a volatile impression, but he does very well at shot-stopping, and his save from Serena’s point blank header is a fine achievement. Flaps at one cross, other than that safe enough. Good game
3 Adjas 6.7
tough-tackling player, over the top on a couple of occasions, and his booking was deserved. Not shy in crossing the halfway line before the break, but more restricted in the final 45
4 Benhalima 7.0
strong in the air, and has some fine tussles with Carnevale in particular. Good physique, seems a communicator at the back
5 Amani 7.1
stylish player, cool on the ball, and relatively strong in the challenge. Often in combat with Vialli, and slots in well as a third central defender, though midfield might be his preference
9 Rahmani 6.1
shows early on some promise in combination with Madjer and Belloumi, but goes very quiet as the half progresses, and he’s almost reduced to a spectator come the half-time whistle
(18 Hadj Adlane 6.5
very direct, but rather clumsy on the ball. Shows some positional awareness, but also displays a lack of understanding with some of his team mates)
10 Belloumi 6.8
clearly a quality player, but despite a promising start where he combined well with Madjer, he grew increasingly invisible as the game progressed. Disappointing injury time effort first half when in a good shooting position. Perhaps not in his best physical shape? Substituted for tactical reasons late on
(12 Haffaf –
comes on at right-back. Does not influence on the match)
11 Madjer 7.0
some quite exquisite close control, but left too isolated up front, no chemistry with neither Rahmani nor Hadj Adlane. Communicates very well with Belloumi, and these two in tandem combine to make progress on a couple of occasions in the first half. No goal threat
14 El-Ouazzani 7.1
very busy; industrious. Kept Algeria tick in the centre of the park, and never gave the Italians much space. Interesting burst forward in the second half when he attempted to find Hadj Adlane with cross
15 Adghigh 6.7
solely a defensive focus, sometimes late in the challenge, with Vialli typically on the receiving end. Yellow for foul on De Agostini. Kept his side relatively tidy
17 Saïb 6.7 (bottom picture, left, with Belloumi)
is calm for a youngster, but is also unable to impact on the game as he runs inbetween too much, unable to get hold of the ball
20 Megharia 6.8
keeps things simple from his libero position, a couple of clumsy tackles gave away free-kicks just outside the penalty area first half. Attempts shot from almost 40 yards at the end, just over