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Italy got their Confederations Cup campaign off to a good start with a 3-1 Group B comeback win over ten-man United States in Pretoria.

USA 1-3 Italy

Italy were making their first-ever appearance at the Confederations Cup, and despite being the reigning world champions, they had a point to prove due to some indifferent form over the past nine months.

Coach Marcello Lippi had selected an experienced squad, and there were few surprises in his starting XI for the opening clash with USA, although captain Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out with injury and replaced by Nicola Legrottaglie. Mauro Camoranesi, Alberto Gilardino and Vincenzo Iaquinta started in a trident frontline.

The USA were the only team to stop Italy at the 2006 World Cup, drawing 1-1 in a group game best remembered for Daniele De Rossi's brutal red card elbow on Brian McBride. The Yanks believed they were in with a real chance of qualification to the semi-finals, and were pinning their attacking hopes on star man Landon Donovan.

First Half

The United States had the first effort of the game as Clint Dempsey lashed high and wide from a free kick, while Camoranesi wasted a good crossing position for Italy, slicing the ball out of play. Tim Howard made the first save of the game on 12 minutes, smothering a 25-yard shot from Gilardino.

Italy should have taken the lead on 20 minutes, as an Andrea Pirlo free kick from the right found Legrottaglie completely unmarked six yards out, but he somehow directed the ball wide of the post.

The Azzurri were on top, but they risked falling behind five minutes later as Pirlo gave the ball away, Bradley broke through, but the midfielder scuffed his shot and Gianluigi Buffon was able to gather at the second attempt.

The US missed an even better chance minutes later, as Jozy Altidore raced clean through on goal, but again scuffed his finish horribly.

After missing two fantastic opportunities, the US saw their hopes of winning receive a huge blow as Ricardo Clark was shown a straight red card for a late foul on Rino Gattuso. While the tackle was late, high and dangerous, a straight red was extremely harsh.

The USA's luck improved on 38 minutes, as Bornstein slid the ball into his own net from outside the area in freak fashion, but the goal was disallowed for a Camoranesi offside. Whether the Juve man was interfering with play was questionable.

Incredibly the US took the lead a couple of minutes later. Chiellini was adjudged to have held back Altidore, and the referee pointed to the spot. Donovan made no mistake with his penalty, sending Buffon the wrong way.

Second Half

Italy pressed from the start of the second half, but still struggled to create clear-cut chances. Iaquinta had a half-chance on 55 minutes as he headed wide from a corner.

Lippi then made a double change, introducing Ricardo Montolivo and Giuseppe Rossi for Camoranesi and Gattuso.

Rossi made an instant impact, as within seconds he had scored a screamer to put Italy level. The Villarreal man won the ball in midfield, strode forward and then unleashed a thunderbolt from 30 yards into the top corner.

Italy now came forward looking for a second goal. Rossi, Gilardino and Iaquinta all fired wide, while Tim Howard beat away a ferocious Pirlo strike.

With 20 minutes remaining, Italy did take the lead, and once again it was a stunning goal. De Rossi let fly with a vicious, swerving effort from fully 35 yards, that zipped off the ground into the bottom corner.

Italy had been a completely different team since Rossi's arrival, and Montolivo, who was also playing well, was the next to test Howard from long range. Chiellini also headed over from a corner.

It should have been 3-1 on 86 minutes as Grosso chipped the ball up to the back post for substitute Luca Toni, but the Bayern man headed straight at Howard.

Howard saved two one-on-ones from Rossi and Toni in injury time, but with virtually the last kick of the game Italy did find a third goal. Pirlo did brilliantly down the left, and lifted the ball up to Rossi, who finished clinically with a right-foot half volley.

Anthony Sormani, Goal.com

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The Rossoblu are keen to add some further experience to their squad for next season.

Genoa managed to finish in fifth place in the Serie A this term, which has guaranteed them a spot in next season’s inaugural Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

As a result, the Rossoblu are looking to add as much depth and experience to their squad as possible, and they have begun well by signing Sergio Floccari from Atalanta and Hernan Crespo from Inter.

The latest reports from Corriere dello Sport suggest that the most improved Italian club this season have added a further two players to their wish list: Juninho of Lyon, and Fernando Menegazzo of Bordeaux.

The latter midfielder is also being tracked by Parma at present, but the player himself affirmed the Rossoblu’s interest in him in a recent interview.

“Genoa have approached me on two separate occasions, and they seem to be very interested at the moment,” he stressed to Sud Ouest.

“Bordeaux have asked me to stay, and I have assured them I will; however, if the Italians offer more, then it will be difficult for my club to say no.”

Meanwhile, Juninho recently terminated his contract with the French giants Lyon, confirming that he will play his football elsewhere next term.

There were reports in the Italian peninsula a few days ago suggesting that the former captain was being tracked by Inter as well, but Genoa certainly seem to be the frontrunners at this point.

Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com

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The Azzurri will wear a different look outfit at this month’s international tournament.

Italy are gearing up for what should be an intriguing Confederations Cup, which is set to get underway on June 14, when the hosts South Africa square off against Iraq in Johannesburg.

The Italians get their campaign underway a day later, when they do battle with the United States of America in Pretoria at 20:30 CET.

In the lead up to the competition, the Azzurri boss Marcello Lippi has announced that his players will be wearing a different look strip throughout, to honour the former coach Vittorio Pozzo and the Italian legends of the 1930’s, who won two world cups for the nation.

“The blue is a little paler than usual, but the important thing for us is that there are four stars on the shirt,” Lippi affirmed in an interview with Corriere dello Sport.

“We will honour it, and where it with pride, as we remember those of the past.”

Dark brown also features in the new look outfit, on the socks and the shorts, which Lippi added was all in respect for the champion side of the 30’s.

“This is also a tribute to those years, and even a little before Pozzo. Sometimes black was even used, but we have preferred dark brown this time around.”

Rest assured Italian fans, the Azzurri will only be wearing this kit for the Confederations Cup, as Lippi has confirmed that on August 12 against Switzerland, the traditional blue will return.

Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com

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