Italy has very little incentive to win tomorrow, and neither, for that matter, does the Czech Republic. The optimum result for both teams would be a tie, since both could advance. In fact, Italy would definitely advance, and the Czechs would in almost every other scenario; only a Ghana victory would knock them out. Similarly, a 1-0 loss to the Czechs would also likely assure both teams of advancing in almost every scenario. The U.S. would either have to blow out Ghana, or Ghana would have to win; a tie or close U.S. win sends both forward. Both teams can watch the scoreboard, and if Ghana strikes first, they can react accordingly, but if it appears that our game is a taut, close affair, there's no incentive to open things up.And, as I predicted last night, once Ghana scored in its game, in the 22nd minute, it was only a matter of time before Italy would break loose, scoring five minutes later...ah, forget about it. I can't rationalize this away. I was wrong. Big time. Smythe sucks.
The best part of the game was actually the first fifteen minutes, with both teams applying intense pressure, and contrary to my prediction, both teams came out firing. The Azzurri played today they way a World Cup contender plays, and they could easily won by a more lopsided score. The Czechs looked old...a much bigger disappointment than the Americans, since they were supposed to go far in this tourney, and their dominant performance in the opener was supposed to be The Tell. Instead, it just showed how overrated they were.