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February 1997
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Host: Good evening and welcome to Football Night, here on Eurosport!

Have we got a treat for you footballing fans tonight. Two giants of Europe clash in tonight's match; the World Cup Qualifier between England and Italy. This is probably the most important qualifier each of these teams will have to play on their road to France and the mere prospect is mouthwatering. Here for all of the excitement tonight we have Ray Wilkins on the English side of things and Dino Zoff representing the Italians. Gents, let's have your thoughts on tonight's game.
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Ray Wilkins

Well Thank you, and it's a great pleasure to join you tonight. In my opinion, this will be the toughest and tightest match of Kendall and Capello's respective regimes. I think that England are better placed going into this match with home advantage, as they have looked strong defensively under their new management. Having said that, Italy have looked stronger in attack - so whether these two factors cancel each other out remains to be seen.



Dino Zoff

I disagree with you there Ray, the momentum ahead of this match is firmly in Italy's court. I've been watching the Italian national side closely since Fabio took over, and they have been playing their best football since the 1994 World Cup. I don't have the same experience of watching England, but they seem to have stuttered at times under Kendall, where they have been burdened with boring, defensive, old-fashioned football. Still, it seems to have produced results - so it is far too early in the night to write England off. I'd go for an Italy win if I was forced to predict a result however.
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Host:

Interesting thoughts, I think you both agree that this one will be tight. Well, we'll see if that's the case at half time. See you then!
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Host:

Welcome back to Eurosport. Mark is our man at tonight's crucial fixture and I'm just getting through that, *pauses*, yes, Mark's ready to give his first half round up. Are you there Mark?
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Yes! I'm receiving you. Wembley is packed out for this one! The Italians have travelled in good numbers too; they obviously have high expectations for their team here. Well, we knew it would be an important match, and the approach of both sides in the first half has reflected this. Neither side has played poorly and we have seen some solid passing football, but there has been a reserved and cautious air about play, which has resulted in neither team making the breakthrough yet. The England Captain came closest on around twenty minutes, when he squandered a free header from inside the box, which ricocheted of the bar. The Italians have looked dangerous at times too though, but nothing as clear cut as Shearerís chance has come their way. However, Del Piero had a strong appeal for a penalty when Sol Campbell seemed to climb his back when heading away a cross into the area, but the referee waved away the Italian protests. Itís goalless at half-time in this crucial qualifier.


Host: Thanks, Mark! The chaps said it would be close, no surprises there then?
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Dino Zoff

Well both myself and Ray predicted that this would be a tense game of football, and that seems to be the case at the moment.But you can't see this one staying goalless all the way though, there is too much attacking quality for that to happen. The winner of this match will be decided by whether a certain manager gambles and goes for broke. If one team goes all out for a win, we will see some serious action in this second half



Ray Wilkins

Yes, but you do wonder if either manager will be so pro-active in taking such a bold move as the one suggested by yourself Dino. I know Howard Kendall very well, and I'd predict that he will take the positives out of that half of football - and only make minor changes at half time and urge patience in his side. After all, there is still a long way to go in this match. I know less about Capello, but you get the feeling that he will have a plan up his sleeve.
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Host: We'll see exactly what Capello has up his sleeve, if anything, when we return at full time. Don't miss it!
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Last edited by Joe on Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Host: Good to have you with us for the final score. The final whistle has just been blown, Mark?

Quote:
Well! This has been one of the most enthralling games Iíve watched in a long time. Capello apparently wasnít content with the reserved approach of Italy during the first half and they came out all guns blazing to start the second. Right from the restart, Italy were fired up and fervent. Propelled on by Capello from the sidelines and Maldini from the pitch, the Italians played some elegant, yet aggressive, attacking football and comfortably won the midfield battle during the early stages of the second half. The England defence came under constant assault, with Campbell and Adams having to engineer an effective cordon against the onslaught of Baggio and Del Piero, who looked particularly fierce. Seamen was forced to make some very good saves as Italy were continually frustrated by the English resilience. Yet, on 53 minutes, Di Matteo made a spirited run down the right flank and cut the ball through to the prowling Baggio, who stood just off his marker on the edge of the box. Baggio turned on a sixpence and fired off a snap-shot towards Seamenís goal. Seamen reacted well, diving down to his left, arm outstretched. However, he only managed to paw the ball onto the post, leaving the predatory Del Piero to slot home the rebound with ease. The goal silenced the England fans within Wembley, as Italian joy shook the two towers of the stadium. England, however, refused to assent to defeat as they committed to an aggressive midfield battle. Helped by Kendallís five in the middle system, England began to overrun the Italians in the centre of the park. Just how stretched the Italians were became evident when Di Matteo, architect of Italyís goal, lunged at Steve McManaman and received a yellow card from the ref. The ball was placed down around five yards outside the box and Peruzzi commanded his wall into shape. However, this was to be the Italian downfall, as a wicked low-drive from Shearer roared beneath the wall as the players jumped and found its way into the back of the net. Both teams have reason to be disappointed here; England for not capitalising on home advantage and Italy for letting victory slip from within their grasp.

Final Score Ė England 1 Italy 1
Baggio, Shearer

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Host: It could barely have been closer! What are your thoughts, Ray and Dino?



Dino Zoff

Well me and Ray have been sitting here all night saying what a tight game this would be, and then we've just seen a second half like that!



Ray Wilkins

Absolutely, what a terrific second half that was. And it's a great point for England in the end - When the English team is down, the bulldog spirit always seems to shine through, and that is what has happened tonight. Kendall's team may have been tactically out-thought and unprepared by the Italian offense in the first part of the second half - But he certainly managed to inspire the battling qualities in his team and his team are well worth a point.



Dino Zoff

Fabio Capello will be disappointed however, this is the last match in his provisional Italian contract - and he would have wanted a win to further his chances of claiming the job. But there has certainly been a groundwork laid for Capello to build his Italy, and I think he needs to be given the chance to finish the job and take Italy to the World Cup. But judging by tonight's action - it will be, as you say in England, a 'ding-dong' battle for the automatic qualification berth from this group. Though I'd imagine that whichever team comes second should be able to negotiate the play-offs comfortably.
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Host: Thank you for watching tonight's game, and thank you also to our two studio pundits tonight. Dino, Ray, it's been a pleasure to have you with us. See you next time, on Football Night!
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