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USA 94, Semifinal (Italy Vs Bulgaria) 

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Published:  March 27, 2012
 
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Slide 1: ==== ==== Real-Life Flying with Accurate WorldWide Scenery Based On Actual Terrain With Over 20,000 of the World's Real Airports & 120+ Different Planes http://www.emmateps.com, http://onlinepaydaysystemreview.blogspot.com, http://catholicyouthdechristianization.blogspot.com, http://emma-paul.blogspot.com/For this experience, just visit: http://d8426erk28kxcmek5dpgq0qp8s.hop.clickbank.net ==== ==== It was the summer of 1994 and I found myself in the United States, where all the action was happening concerning the world of football and once again like in the previous world cup held in 1990, Italy had qualified to the semifinal. This however was four years later and how we had suffered to get back to the place we had been in the world cup held on our own soil? This was something only known to us; Italy's fans and naturally their players who had been forced to survive 5 grueling matches, one of which included over time. We had also lost a game and drawn one, given up four goals, had our goalkeeper and Zola sent off, our captain had been operated on and Tasotti had been suspended for throwing an elbow which lead to his suspension for the rest of the tournament. All of which was in stark contrast to Italia 90, where we had sailed in to the semifinal; winning every single game in the process and without as mush as conceding a single goal or needing overtime or having anybody get in to trouble regarding red or even yellow cards. There were no doubts that getting to the semifinal in Italy 90 had been much easier then in this world cup 94 but regardless of which we had made it through the difficult road. I my opinion, all those difficult moments had even been better for the team and the its players. As it made them tougher; not only mentally but as a unit, who learnt to stick together when things got thorny. Perhaps it was that lack of having had any really difficult games that left Italy mentally unprepared when the going got tough against Argentina, specially after the equalizer and eventual overtime. This however was another world cup, in which Italy had been tested and Bulgaria would be the last hurdle before the final but we knew we could win though we had learnt against Ireland that there was no such thing as a sure victory. Making it certain that we were not going underestimate Bulgaria, particularly with players like Kostadinov, Balakov, Leckov and Stoickow. The last of these players having scored five goals in the competition up and till that point, apart from being the one who clearly motivated the rest. On the day of the match I put on my trusty Italian shirt, the one of the Nazionale Di Calcio (National Football Team) and took my Italian flag; all to make it clear that I was a supporter of "La Scuadra Azurra", who all my hopes and dreams would be backing against Bulgaria to win and advance through to the final. Italians were everywhere at Port Authority, seemingly out numbering Bulgarian supporters by at least 4 to 1 or perhaps even more. In all truth the atmosphere was one I will never forget, and not just because of the memories but of the sensations I was experiencing. Flags and banners of all kinds decorated this which was
Slide 2: normally a bus station in what without much room for doubt in my mind was a grand display of Italian pride and almost fanaticism toward that which was not only our national sport but that of most countries. The trip to Giant's Stadium in the meadowlands was one I had gotten used to by then, after having already made it twice but on this occasion we would be playing for the right to be in the grand final; held only once every four years. All of which making it easy to see why this, for me would be a day which would stay with me forever, specially given another factor. In the history of the world cup, despite all the nations that play football as a main sport which number over 100, only ten nations had ever made it to a final, with one of these countries, in the form of Czechoslovakia, not even being around anymore. Getting to a final was not easy, this anybody who knew anything about football could attest to and yet Italy were on the verge of doing it but then again so was Bulgaria, and all they would need is one exceptional game from arguably their greatest player ever by the name of Stoickov and it would be Sofia which would be celebrating until the final. Naturally at the expense of Italy and probably our greatest player of all time; Roberto Baggio, who though not as gifted as his majesty "Diego Maradona", was what I would say 80% percent of the same which made him great just for having so much of this legend who was beyond any in what could be called natural ability. Yes, Italy had the team to be there but would we win for this was but one game and anything could happen. It was more then a feeling as I entered the Stadium and took my seat, which was literary, in the last row but this being Giant's Stadium, which did not have an athletic track; made it possible for me to see things not so badly and what I missed I could always watch later. This due to the fact that I would be recording the game on my VCR, as DVD players had not been invented yet, let alone those that could record. I felt in a way that I was a part of Italian football history, something I would be able to tell my children should I ever have any that I was there when Italy played Bulgaria in the "World Cup USA 94". Once seated I looked around and it seemed like a sea of flags, and all of them were red, white and green though not all Italian as the flag of those who would be our worthy opponents for the day were also of the same colors. This being the case even if the strips of the Bulgarian flag were horizontal as opposed to ours which were vertical. Banners of all kinds were also available, from those fans; who came from Italy itself to those like myself who represented different aspects of Italy's huge community which had spread through out the world. The anthems sounded and though I did not mark which came first, my mind will never rid itself of the image of practically the whole stadium standing up for the Italian National Anthem; "Fratelli D' Italia" or "Brothers Of Italy". This being what we were as not all of us who supported Italy were born in the old country yet this mattered not for our roots were there which was what did and like the words claim "Brothers of Italy, Italy has awaken", which was precisely what happened. Voices, thousands upon thousands of them cried out Mameli's words which were put to music in honor of Italian patriotism, even claiming "Siam pronti a la morte" (we are ready to die), which of course would not be the case that day, regardless of weather Italy won or not but the feeling was the same for this ever crucial match. After the emotional display of singing our anthem, the game began and as it did I noticed that
Slide 3: those around me, despite having on Italian shirts were, neither Italian nor descendents of which but this also held little importance for they too supported the same cause or so they claimed. In fact they were American of the White Anglo Saxon variety, who through out the tournament had taken up the Italian flag. As for the game, Italy started strongly dominating Bulgaria, of course there was a danger in this and not just from the threat of counter attacks which Stoickov's speed and talent were more then capable of making us pay for but Italy would use up a lot of energy, apart from not being able to maintain this tempo through out the whole match. Italy would eventually get tired, specially given the tremendous heat of that day and then it would be Bulgaria's turn to dominate. Italy however was playing sensationally but what if no goals came as a result of it and they wore themselves out in their efforts. Baggio and company came close on several occasions but Mihailov (Bulgaria's goalkeeper) held strongly as did the rest of Bulgaria or at least till Baggio pulled of one the greatest plays I have ever seen in a game I witnessed live in which he takes a ball past two defenders and from an angle, with a swerving curling shot beats Bulgaria's solid goalkeeper to put us in the lead 1-0. A great goal by a player of equal quality which can be seen by those who have not yet on youtube; as can other highlights from this semifinal. The screams of goal were incredibly loud and why should it have been other, since Italy was a head; 20 minutes in to the match? We were wining but cocky was not something we could afford to be; for we had also been in front against Argentina and the Netherlands, in previous world cup matches that would have taken us to the final and yet we on both occasions faltered. Italy continued its attack, a ball hit the Bulgarian post as we again came so close but it did not take long when five minutes after our first goal, a second came to make the score 2-0. Roberto Baggio again found the mark, in a play were he beat both the Bulgarian offside trap as well as their goalkeeper; one more time to put us, in a most commanding position. It was ecstasy all around for Italy's supporters who had taken a large step on what would be their road to the final and how we could feel it, as we screamed out our second goal, perhaps with even more gusto then the first one. The game however continued and the more it did the more Italy lost their domination on the field, both due to fatigue, the heat and above all Bulgaria, who had not come this far in this world cup to simply give up. They had not only won their first ever world cup match but had beaten two previous world cup winners, therefore it was expected that they would not simply roll over after only two goals, which is precisely what they did not do. Kostadinov, Leckov and above all Stoickov started becoming more and more dangerous, as our defense was forced to buckle down for what would be a furry of Bulgarian attacks. This after all was a game which one could only win or loose, draws did not matter nor by how much one lost, as losing by two goals was the same as doing so by a hundred, all of which leading to Bulgaria throwing caution to the wind, in desperate all out attack to get back in it. Bulgaria sent just about everybody forward, their game growing daring, as they imposed their presence on our half of the field. So much pressure had to bring about something which was what came, when Pagliuca was forced to tackle Sirakov, who had gone past three Italian defenders and was about to score when he was fouled by our goalkeeper in the box. A penalty it was and who but Stoickov should take it and score. Bulgaria was still trailing but now by only 2-1 and with ever mounting confidence why would it be inconceivable that a second and an equalizer would come their way? Italy was not going through a good moment but such was fortune that the half ended two minutes after Bulgaria's first goal, just as they were controlling play and might have produced
Slide 4: one to tie up matters. The break saw Italy's tifossi celebrate but not overly as Bulgaria was more then capable of scoring in the 45 minutes still to come and not just one to even the game up but two which would send them on their way to the final and Italy once again to the disappointing and almost pointless match that was held for third place. The second half got under way, but the break seemed to take something out of the Bulgarian attack, as if there moment had passed and the game became more evened out. Italy and Bulgaria basically played out the second half; both tired though this favored the Azurri who were leading. The second half however was not free of controversy when the ball hit Costacurta's hand in the box, in an action that would have meant a second penalty for Bulgaria, had it not been for the referee who ruled it accidental. This being that the ball hit the hand of the player in question when it was next to his body, as opposed to when it does so with the players arms being up from his sides; which is always given as a free kick or penalty, depending on where the infraction takes place regardless of weather their was intension or not. Italy however dogged a bullet and was still a head and we the "Fratelli D' Italia" felt more and more in the final. I eventually moved down to another level to see things closer and managed to be extra close to the action for the last ten minutes. Italy however was not going to get out of this game so easily and problems started as the game was winding down. First one came when Costcurta got his second yellow card of the tournament, which meant he would not be playing in the final but this was not so bad, for if anything Italy had defenders and good ones at that to spare. Loosing Costacurta for the final was an acceptable loss as Mussi or Apolloni could easily take his place but Roberto Baggio was a different story, it had been basically he; our star player who had won the last three games for us scoring five goals in the process. This man would be a tremendous absence and what should happen as we waited for the final whistle but Baggio getting injured. Baggio limped of the field and not even under his own power but assisted by trainers, in what had to have been a serious contusion. Worried we were though not so much for this game but the final however for the moment we waited for the end of the game which came with Italy a head 2-1. It felt like glory extraordinaire at that moment, for us; Italy's fans. We would be playing the final, true Baggio was injured, and two of our key defenders would not be eligible due to yellow cards but still we had made it. How we started celebrating at that moment with hugs and kisses; as if all of us had won the lottery which in a way we had, while men and women alike went about shouting Italia, Italia. I for my part will never forget taking a photograph of two Bulgarian supporters; who were brother and sister and in fact Bulgarian American, as they still waved their flag proudly after the loss. For what shame could their be in losing in a competitive match; in a semifinal specially for a team that had never even won a world cup match before USA 94. I naturally congratulated them on their country's not only fine performance in that game but world cup, as they had really given a good account of themselves, despite the expectations of many that they would not even get past the first round. Italy however had won and as we filled out we could not get over how we would be in the final.
Slide 5: Italy had done it but there was still an additional hurdle which more then likely would be Brazil but that would be later, for we; Italy's fans were delighted in spite of having to see our best player carried of the field. This almost at the end of the game but this we figured would not be such a huge problem; as Baggio would be in the final, no matter what we had to inject him with, for it is a fact that football is not a matter of life and death but even more important. It was on the bus home that I made a comment that caught the attention of many and perhaps could have caused a small riot, if less civil people had been present. My words being "Loro sono proximo" (they are next) when I saw two gentlemen wearing the yellow jersey of Brazil, who in fact were Brazilians claiming they wished no animosity toward us. As I also explained for my own that my statement had not been made in malice but with intension of pointing out that Brazil, who were already playing against Sweden would more then likely be our next and final opponent in USA 94. Friendly was our conversation, meaning mine along with several other Italians with these two Brazilian fans, who could also see that an Italy-Brazil final would be another classic. Naturally, we inclined toward a result as had been in Spain 82 or France 38 while they surely toward one more similar to what occurred in Mexico 70 or Argentina 78, however in all this discussion nobody lost sight that enemies we were not but rivals, in a contest that would only decide a trophy and not which nation was better, for none would be worse. My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. I also am the author of the book entitled "New York's Opera Society" which is now available on Amazon. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gianni_Truvianni ==== ==== Real-Life Flying with Accurate WorldWide Scenery Based On Actual Terrain With Over 20,000 of the World's Real Airports & 120+ Different Planes http://www.emmateps.com, http://onlinepaydaysystemreview.blogspot.com, http://catholicyouthdechristianization.blogspot.com, http://emma-paul.blogspot.com/For this experience, just visit: http://d8426erk28kxcmek5dpgq0qp8s.hop.clickbank.net
Slide 6: ==== ====

   
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