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Donadoni deflects criticism in heated press conference following Italy's 3-0 loss

Donadoni deflects criticism in heated press conference following Italy's 3-0 loss

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni fended off a barrage of criticism in a heated news conference Tuesday, a day after the World Cup champions were routed 3-0 by the Netherlands.
Donadoni was grilled on everything from his lineup choices to his failure to raise his voice in interviews immediately after the game.
"Were we dominated? That's your evaluation," Donadoni said after entering a crowded room at Casa Azzurri with his head down, checking his cell phone.
"The only certainty is that we lost last night. And the only thing we can do now is try to straighten things out for the next game."
Italy's next Group C match is against Romania on Friday, followed by a rematch of the World Cup final with France four days later.
Donadoni was also asked to reply to a front-page headline Tuesday in the Turin daily Tuttosport, which read, "Give us back Lippi." Donadoni was hired when Marcello Lippi resigned after leading Italy to the World Cup title two years ago in Germany.
"Honestly, that was something I expected," Donadoni said.
When the criticism got to a personal level, attacking Donadoni's consistently monotone voice, the coach blurted out, "Oh Mamma Mia!"
"Criticizing someone for their tone of voice is a mistake," he added.
The Azzurri hadn't been beaten this bad since falling 3-0 to Sweden in Naples 25 years ago in European Championship qualifying. In the tournament proper, it was Italy's worst result ever, surpassing a 2-0 defeat to the Soviet Union in the 1988 semifinals.
Italy fielded an all-AC Milan midfield of Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini, with AS Roma's Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta left on the bench.
Milan finished a disappointing fifth in Serie A last season, 18 points behind second-place Roma, but Donadoni said he doesn't "make decisions based on things like that."
"If that were the case, I wouldn't have called up anyone from Milan," he said. "I don't think those players are in difficulty."
Nine of Italy's 11 starters were age 30 or over. At 24, the highly versatile De Rossi is one of the squad's youngest members.
"De Rossi is a great player, but yesterday I went with Gattuso, Pirlo and Ambrosini," Donadoni said. "That doesn't take anything away from De Rossi."
The Dutch counterattack sprinted right through Italy's midfield time and time again, producing goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wesley Sneijder before halftime and another from standout defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the 79th minute.
Donadoni said he could not field a lineup with four midfielders because he wouldn't have anyone to play the left wing. When reminded that Perrotta held down that position at the World Cup in Germany, Donadoni stated curtly, "We're not in Germany anymore. We're in Austria and Switzerland."
The once-vaunted Azzurri defense also struggled. Specifically, Marco Materazzi was consistently several steps behind the Dutch strikers.
Materazzi injured his right thigh in a friendly with Hungary in August and missed three months following surgery. He has struggled all season with Inter Milan.
"He did have some trouble recuperating from his injury, but I thought he was motivated enough and had enough character that it was worth playing him," Donadoni said.
One thing that did bother Donadoni was the difference in fouls _ the Netherlands committed 19 to Italy's 10.
"That shows they were more aggressive than us," Donadoni said.
After scoring 39 goals for Bayern Munich last season, center forward Luca Toni appeared sluggish.
"Clearly, after such a long season, some players don't have the form they had a few months ago," Donadoni said.
Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete and vice president Demetrio Albertini, who is Donadoni's old AC Milan teammate and who was responsible for hiring him, flanked Donadoni in the stuffy press conference room.
"We qualified after starting with a draw and a loss and we recovered to qualify," Abete said. "Hopefully we can do the same thing in the final phase of the tournament."
After acknowledging that the game marked "a sad, bitter page in our history," Abete added that Donadoni has the federation's "maximum support."
However, there is an escape clause in Donadoni's recent two-year contract extension that could open the way for him to be fired if Italy does not reach the semifinals.
The last time Italy lost its opening match at a major football competition was a 1-0 defeat to Ireland at the 1994 World Cup. The Azzurri recovered and made it to the final, losing to Brazil on penalties.
"We bounced back then with a lot of hard work and real commitment from everyone involved," said Donadoni, a starter on the '94 squad. "That's going to happen this time too."


Updated : 2021-04-17 05:38 GMT+08:00