Italy alarmed by unusually generous defence

Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:05pm BST

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (L) and Giorgio Chiellini react after Brazil's Fred (R) scored a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador June 22, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (L) and Giorgio Chiellini react after Brazil's Fred (R) scored a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador June 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

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(Reuters) - Italy's break with their catenaccio system emphasising defence and tactical fouls has been a blessing for the neutrals but left their players wondering whether they might be going too far in the other direction.

Cesare Prandelli's side have scored eight goals and conceded eight goals in their three Confederations Cup games so far, remarkable statistics for a team which has usually been synonymous with miserly defence.

"Eight goals is a bit too many," defender Giorgio Chiellini told Italian media after Saturday's 4-2 defeat to Brazil. "We have conceded too many goals from set pieces and we have to be more attentive. The problem is not the defence but the whole team."

Fingers were pointed at veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon who, after conceding four goals in an international for the first time in last year's Euro 2012 final loss to Spain, suffered the same fate again in Saturday's 4-2 defeat to Brazil.

Buffon admitted he was at fault for Neymar's free kick which put Brazil 2-1 ahead just before the hour.

"The free kick should not have been conceded on my (far) post, but I didn't see the ball leave Neymar's foot," he said.

"There were six or seven people in front of me and I just couldn't see the ball."

"I do hope we stop conceding so many goals, as it is not in our nature, although some of them were controversial."

Prandelli, who took over as coach after the 2010 World Cup, has completely changed the face of the national team, also banning the histrionics which have often made watching Italy an exasperating experience.

He has imposed a code of ethics which players have to follow even with their clubs.

Pablo Osvaldo was kicked out of the Confederations Cup squad after publicly insulting his coach at AS Roma during the Italian Cup final against Lazio.

Despite the final scoreline, Italy put Brazil under pressure in the second half and could have made it 3-3 before Fred scored Brazil's final goal late in the game.

"I think we saw the real Italy," said Chiellini. "With a little bit of fortune, we could have drawn or won."

Prandelli said: "We played really well in the second half, I'm very happy with what I saw, the reaction, the willingness to attack in force.

"With a team like this you are always taking risks and if you make a mistake you concede a goal," he added.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Josh Reich)

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