Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Switzerland 0 Italy 0

Italy's disappointing recent form continued as they were held to a goalless draw in their international friendly with Switzerland in Basle tonight.

The Azzurri went into the game on the back of successive defeats to Egypt and Brazil in the Confederations Cup and there was little reason for optimism again as the world champions struggled for inspiration.

Indeed the Swiss came closest to breaking the deadlock through Tranquillo Barnetta's shot which came back off the post.

Italy boss Marcello Lippi handed debuts to Genoa defender Domenico Criscito, 22, and Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, 23, at St Jakob-Park.

It was a more established name who had the first chance of the game, though, Alberto Gilardino bringing a save out of Diego Benaglio with a right-footed effort after six minutes.

Gokhan Inler had a shot blocked by Fabio Cannavaro and Ludovic Magnin fired wide before Gilardino again went close.

The Fiorentina frontman met Gianluca Zambrotta's cross in the centre of the area, but his headed was blocked by Benaglio.

Gilardino fired another opening over the bar and debutant Marchisio was also off target as Italy failed to make the most of their early control.

And they almost paid the price when Barnetta's left-footed shot from the left channel came back off a post in the 33rd minute.

Giuseppe Rossi, one Italy player who came back from the Confederations Cup with some credit after scoring twice against USA, then shot over from another Zambrotta centre.

Benaglio continued to deal comfortably with everything Italy threw at him after the break, saving Vincenzo Iaquinta's effort just after the hour mark.

Gianluigi Buffon's goal was threatened when Hakan Yakin got his head to Barnetta's inswinging corner, but could only direct the effort over the top.

But Italy almost won it in stoppage time when Davide Santon's cross found fellow substitute Fabio Quagliarella, but Benaglio parried his effort to earn the Swiss a draw.

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