If ever there was a ‘game of two halves’ then this friendly epitomized that much-overused cliché. A quite ugly Azzurri performance in the first half was salvaged only by the introduction of experience for the second 45 minutes. Coach Cesare Prandelli’s experimentation with some new faces will have shown who is and who is not ready for the step up to international football.
Emiliano Viviano – 6
Made good saves in the second half, especially from long range Romanian efforts. But he surely could have done better with the goal conceded, as his body shape appeared totally wrong. A small step backward with respect to his previous performances. Untidy.
Davide Santon – 6
Did not look at all overawed by being back in the team and endeavored to attack at every given opportunity. Unfortunately most of his runs were fruitless and tended to lose the ball all too often. Is suffering the lack of first team opportunities at club level but a decent performance. Keen.
Andrea Ranocchia – 6
By far the best of the new faces and certainly showed signs that he is ready to be part of the squad on a regular basis. No silly mistakes and controlled much of what came to him with ease. Comfortable.
Leonardo Bonucci – 5.5
Strong and assured at times but clumsy and lacking far too often tonight. Almost gave away a penalty in the first half and on more than one occasion allowed the forwards to beat him easily. Not a good evening’s work for the Juventus center back. Awkward.
Federico Balzaretti – 5
Failed miserably on his debut. Poor defending, especially in the first half as much of the Romanian attacks came from his side of the pitch and did not work well with Stefano Mauri in trying to control those attacks. Offered little quality in the offensive stage. Unsuccessful.
Christian Ledesma – 5
Part of the awful first half performance, the Lazio man was unable to protect the defence and struggled to find his place at the base of the midfield. Very poor distribution and other than a few interceptions could not impose himself on the team. Botched.
Stefano Mauri – 5.5
Had a terrible first half, failed to offer any assistance to the left side of midfield and very lacking in his passing and movement. No forward runs from the midfielder and was simply outmuscled by his opponents. Minor improvement in the second half but did not look international quality. Disappointing.
Alberto Aquilani 5.5
Much was expected of Aquilani’s return to the team but the former Roma midfielder made little impression on the game. Some bright early passes early on but then drifted in and out as he suffered the opponents’ high pressing tactic. Deserves another chance but will need to improve hugely. Suffocated.
Alessandro Diamanti – 5
Another new face whose performance served only to show that he just doesn’t have the ability to play at this level. Poor dribbling and poor shooting, much more was expected of Diamanti in the role of the ‘trequartista’ but there was no spark or fantasy in what he did. Rightly hauled off at half time. Inadequate.
Mario Balotelli – 6
Handed the number 10 shirt, the striker showed some excellent flashes of what he can do but also of the mistakes he can make. Drifted to the left side far too often, which left the team horribly short and with no depth to the forward line. The team lacked any point of reference as he rarely played through the middle. Frustrating.
Giuseppe Rossi – 5
Given the captain’s armband, but this did little to inspire the bright talent that Rossi undoubtedly possesses. Aimless running, obvious frustration with his team mates and had no understanding with partner Balotelli. A performance to forget for the Villareal forward. Directionless.
Daniele De Rossi – 6.5
Replaced Ledesma at the start of the second half and immediately added the steel which was missing from the first half effort. Won tackles and settled the midfield, which took a lot of pressure away from the defence. A major blow for Roma, when he left the field with an injury. Important.
Alberto Gilardino – 6
Was the model center forward that the performance sorely lacked during the first period. Came on for Giuseppe Rossi and immediately put the ball in the net, though it was rightly ruled out for offside. Should have also been awarded a penalty after being bear hugged to the ground. His energy made Italy dangerous again. Classic.
Andrea Pirlo – 6.5
Was the fulcrum that brought Italy back into the game and the third substitution at the start of the second half for the ineffectual Diamanti. His experience and sheer class with the ball immediately lifted the rest of the team and his corner allowed the Azzurri to equalize. No Pirlo, no party. Invaluable.
Fabio Quagliarella – 6.5
Came on for Balotelli and his important touch from Pirlo’s corner (helped on by a Romanian boot) saved the result. Was a constant danger from the moment he was introduced, a spectacular bicycle kick which went wide signaled his intentions immediately. Effective.
Mattia Cassani – 5.5
Was brought on to replace the tiring Santon with 30 minutes to go and though made efforts to help the attack, was unable to make much inroads on the right hand side.
Giampaolo Pazzini – No Vote
Came on for ten minutes after De Rossi went off injured but had little time to impact on the game.