Live Commentary: Italy 1-2 France - as it happened

Live Commentary: Italy 1-2 France - as it happened
© PA Photos

The 2006 World Cup finalists came face to face on Wednesday night in Parma where Italy confronted France in a friendly international.

Despite the Azzurri taking the lead through Stephan El Shaarawy in the 35th minute, Mathieu Valbuena and Bafetimbi Gomis scored for the visitors to win the game 2-1.

Read how it all unfolded in our minute-by minute live commentary below.


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7.01pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole’s live coverage of the friendly international between Italy and France in Parma. This promises to be a very entertaining and intriguing game of football, and you can follow all the action live here on this page.

7.03pmBoth Italy and France have headed into this game on the back of positive starts to their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. Italy are unbeaten in Group B with 10 points from four matches, while France are second behind Spain in Group I only on goal difference.

7.06pmFrance, though, have a woeful record on Italian soil as they have not won in the peninsula since 1994 when they got the better of the Azzurri 1-0 in Naples.

7.10pmI will now post the two teams’ starting lineup. Cesare Prandelli had already named his team on Tuesday.

7.12pmItaly Starting Lineup: Sirigu; Maggio, Chiellini, Barzagli, Balzaretti; Montolivo, Verratti, Marchisio, Candreva, Balotelli, El Shaarawy

7.14pmSo for Italy Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli starts despite being out of form at the moment. He is partnered by AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy, who is in superb form for the Rossoneri. Andrea Pirlo’s heir-apparent, Marco Verratti, too makes the Azzurri starting lineup at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma, and so does Antonio Candreva.

7.16pmThis is what Prandelli had to say about his very attacking formation on Tuesday: “El Shaarawy will play in the position he already uses at Milan, Balotelli will be the centre-forward and Candreva plays on the right. I will ask the attacking players to flood the area and seek depth in going for the goal. El Shaarawy and Antonio Candreva have very attacking characteristics and the midfield must work to support them. The internal midfielders must not just bring balance, but also participate in the attack and go for goal. In terms of possession, as we do not have a fourth midfielder we will have to keep the ball less and surge forward more, while without the ball we need to repeat the same attitude we had in recent outings.”.

7.17pmFrance Starting Lineup: Lloris; Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Evra; Capoue, Matuidi, Sissoko, Valbuena, Ribery; Giroud

7.19pmOn Tuesday France coach Didier Deschamps said that he is taking tonight’s match very seriously: “It is a friendly, but the result is always important. When you take on a team like Italy, who are one of the best in the world, there are always special expectations and it requires a particular level of concentration.”

7.20pmIt is a very attacking and talented French lineup. Olivier Giroud has been in good form for Arsenal in recent weeks, while Franck Ribery is world class. Hugo Lloris will be delighted to be starting this game for France.

7.22pmLet’s continue our build-up to what could turn out to the match of the night with some quotes. FIGC President Ignazio Abete is hopeful that Marco Verratti can turn on the style for Italy tonight and says: “It is still early to compare Verratti with Andrea Pirlo, who is a treasure of our football. He is playing in the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain, but Prandelli wants to test him out against France. Pirlo is absolutely not up for debate, of course. He is worthy of the Ballon d’Or.”

7.25pmYoann Gourcuff does not start for France tonight, but the Lyon midfielder is delighted just to be in the squad: "All selections are privileged. My career also depends on [how good] the team does. Everything is connected. Hopefully my team-mates know that I play for them, and that should be enough."

7.27pmVerratti has been compared to Pirlo, and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder says that he can play alongside the Juventus playmaker: “Pirlo will soon return to the starting lineup, but I am convinced that we can co-exist. I can, after all, play as the attacking midfielder behind two strikers because that is a role I have covered in the past.”.

7.30pmLazio midfielder Antonio Candreva too starts tonight and this is what he had to say about his place in Prandelli’s plans: ”This is the happiest moment of my career. This really is a magic moment for me. I’m happy, things are going in the right direction and I want to continue like this. This is a new beginning for me, not revenge. I have nothing to get off my chest, I’m just delighted that I’m doing well for Lazio and that I am back in the Giro Azzurro. This is a point of departure for me, not one of arrival. I’m honoured to be here and I want to remain for as long as possible.”

7.33pmFrance defender Patrice Evra is keen to win tonight’s game and says: "After World Cup 2010, Italy improved their way of playing and their results, but France had more difficulties. Now I want to win with my national team, it will be a failure for me not winning. With [former international coach Laurent] Blanc I lost my position as a regular player, now with Deschamps things are better. He said to me 'only if you play well you will be a regular player.”

7.35pmBalotelli will lead Italy’s attack against France tonight, and Prandelli wants the Manchester City striker to show what he can do: “The time has arrived for Balotelli to demonstrate that he has become a mature footballer. I often joke with Mario that perhaps I’m the only person who can manage him, but maybe because we don’t spend that much time together.”

7.38pmPrandelli is also hopeful that 20-year-old Verratti can eventually replace Pirlo as Italy’s playmaker-in-chief: “I hope Verratti can replace Pirlo, but only in the very distant future. It is hard to leave Verratti out because he has great technique and personality. With time, I could find a role for him in the midfield. After all, he has played as a Trequartista in the past.”

7.40pmKickoff in Parma is just around 10 minutes away, so stay on this page and enjoy what should be a hugely entertaining and intriguing game of football.

7.55pmFive minutes to kickoff, as the players are coming on to the pitch.

1minAnd Italy kickoff proceedings at the the Ennio Tardini in Parma.

2minsBoth teams have commenced in an identical 4-3-3 formation, but formations will change as the game progresses for sure.

4minsItaly are dominating possession in the very early minutes of the match, as Balotelli, Montolivo and Candreva all have had touches of the ball.

5minsGood movement there from Italy, as Candreva creates problems inside the France penalty area that is somehow cleared away. He has really reinvented himself at Lazio - Candreva - and it is really good to see his talent being recognised at international level.

7minsBALOTELLI! Montolivo slips a neat pass to Balotelli, who takes a shot from over 20 yards but fails to trouble Lloris at all between the France posts.

8minsItaly on the attack again, as Candreva releases Maggio down the right flank, but the final cross is disappointing as Lloris claims it with ease.

9minsItaly have made a very good start in this game and are controlling the match. France are on the backfoot. I don’t think Franck Ribery has touched the ball yet!

10minsBALOTELLI! The Manchester City striker hits the crossbar with a ferocious shot from outside the France box! A long ball is played over to El Shaarawy, who lays it off for the 22-year-old, who is unlucky not to score.

12minBalotelli is on fire tonight and has had two very good chances to score. He has struggled to play regularly for Manchester City this season, but he seems to be in control of himself tonight.

13minsItaly are defending nicely as well and are smothering the French attack right when they are being conceived.

15minsFifteen minutes gone in this friendly international between Italy and France in Parma, and it is goalless.

17minsVerratti on the ball now and he slips a pass to Balotelli on the left, but the 22-year-old striker is dispossessed.

19minsMaggio dispossesses Evra on the right flank and tries to launch an attack by passing the ball forward to Montolivo, but the AC Milan playmaker is dispossessed with ease.

20minsFrance threaten Sirigu, as Matuidi picks out Giroud with a clever little pass into the box, but the Arsenal striker fails to capitalise on it.

21minsValbuena tries to test Sirigu as he shoots from distance, but fails to keep his attempt on target. France are getting into the game now.

23minsThe game has more become even now as France are looking more confident on the ball than they did in the opening 15 or so minutes of the match.

25minsSAKHO! Balotelli gets a cross in that Montolivo tries to turn home, but Sakho clears the ball away in time.

27minsKoscielny makes a very good jump and heads the ball away, as Montolivo tries to lift a ball over the top to Balotelli. That was perfect timing from the Arsenal centre-back.

29minsMatuidi is looking more and more dangerous as the game is progressing. Ribery, on the other hand, looks largely anonymous.

30minsCANDREVA! The Lazio man shoots at the France goal from just outside the penalty area, but his shot is way wide.

32minsJust over half an hour gone, and it remains goalless between Italy and France. Mario Balotelli has come the closest for either side, having hit the crossbar in the 10th minute.

33minsSISSOKO! Sissoko drives from outside the Italy penalty area, but the 23-year-old fails to keep his shot on target.

34minsGood defending there from Sissoko, as he clears the ball away just in time Balzarett was going to drill in a cross.

35minsGOAL El Shaarawy scores and makes it 1-0 to Italy! Montolivo slips in a great pass that the AC Milan striker shoots past Lloris.

37minsGOAL Valbuena scores for France and makes it 1-1! And what a beautiful goal that is! He gets past two challenges down the left and then cuts inside, before shooting home past Sirigu.

38minsWow, that was quick! Two goals in two minutes, and it is one apiece in Parma. Game on!

39minsRibery tries to make it 2-1 to France by shooting from distance, but his attempt goes way wide of the mark.

40minsFive minutes to half-time at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma, and it is 1-1.

41minsFrance on the attack now, as Valbuena floats in a cross from the right that Barzagli clears in time.

44minsVerratti shows some good ball control down the left and then slips a pass to Balzaretti, but his eventual cross is cleared away by the France defence.

HTIt is half-time between Italy and France in Parma, and it is 1-1. Stephan El Shaarawy scored for the Azzurri on 35 minutes but two minutes later Mathieu Valbuena restored parity for the visitors. Back on 10 minutes, Mario Balotelli was unlucky not to score for the Italians, as he saw his ferocious shot come off the France crossbar.

HTIt has been an entertaining and engaging first-half. It was all Italy in the opening 15 minutes, but then France started to find their feet. Two goals in two minutes late on have added more spice to this clash. Stay tuned to this page, as we will bring all the action from the second half live here.

46minsAnd now the second half kicks off...

49minsItaly on the attack now, as a cross is drilled in from the right that Sakho heads away. Maggio finds himself at the end of that header but he cannot control it.

50minsI can see that Italy are going to make a substitution now.

50minsIt’s a double substitution for Italy now. Claudio Marchisio is replaced by Emanuele Giaccherini, while Riccardo Montolivo goes off for Alessandro Florenzi.

51minsItaly had also made another substitution at the break. Leonardo Bonucci had come on for Andrea Barzagli, while France coach Didier Deschamps brought on Anthony Reveillere for Mathieu Debuchy before the start of the second half.

52minsCapoue shoots from 25 yards but his shot sails way over the Italy crossbar.

53minsBALOTELLI! The Italian striker gallops down the left flank and floats in a cross that Lloris clears away. Then Maggio runs down the right and sends in a cross that France clear away just in time.

54minsEnd-to-end stuff in Parma, as Ribery runs down the left flank and tries to send a ball in, but it is cleared away with relative ease.

55minsAnother substitution for Italy. Andrea Pirlo has now come on for Marco Verratti.

56minsPirlo tries to release Balotelli over the top with a long ball, but Lloris makes a good save.

58minsFree kick to France in a dangerous position just outside the Italy penalty box. I presume that Ribery is going to take it.

59minsAnd indeed Ribery takes the free kick, but he can only hit the wall. Italy make a quick counter-attack and Maggio floats in a cross from the right. That was very quick for the Italians.

60minsHalf an hour remain in this match, and it is still 1-1. Italy have been the brighter of the two teams so far in the second half, and I will not be surprised if they make the breakthrough anytime soon.

63minsDouble substitution for France now. Ribery is replaced by Menez, and Gomis comes on for Giroud.

65minsThe referee brings out his cards and guess who is shown the first yellow card of the game? Balotelli for a rash challenge. Surprise, surprise!

67minsGOAL! Bafetimbi Gomis scores and makes it 2-1 to France! Menez cuts in to Evra from the left flank whose attempted shot on the Italy goal is slide in by Gomis!

70minsAnother substitution for Italy. Giovinco comes on for Candreva and is given a huge applause by the crowd at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.

71minsLess than 20 minutes remain on the clock, as France are heading towards their first win on Italian soil since 1994.

72minsGOMIS! The second-half substitute shoots at goal from the edge of the penalty area and Sirigu is forced to make a save.

73minsFrance make another change. Gourcuff comes on for Valbuena. Meanwhile, Diamanti has come on for El Shaarawy.

74minsDIAMANTI! The newly arrived substitute drills in a brilliant cross from the right across the face of the France goal, but it evades both Giovinco and Balotelli. That was one of the best crosses of the match, may even be the best cross!

75minsFifteen minutes remain in this match and France are leading Italy 2-1 after coming from a goal down.

76minsNow Pirlo sends a long ball from the midfield searching for Balzaretti on the left, but it is too long and goes out of play.

80minsGIOVINCO! The Juventus playmaker cuts inside from the right and sends in a pass for Diamanti, who fails to connect properly and his meek effect is saved easily by Lloris between the France posts.

82minsGIOVINCO! The Juventus playmaker shoots at goal from distance but Lloris makes a fantastic save! That was a brilliant shot and a brilliant save.

83minsAnother substitution for France. Gonalons comes on for Capoue.

85minsMENEZ! The PSG forward shoots at the Italy goal, but Sirigu makes a good save.

87minsGIACCHERINI! Giaccherini turns in a cross from the right towards the France goal, but it comes off the crossbar! Oh, that was agonisingly close for Italy.

90minsAnother chance for France. Moussa Sissoko comes off for Benoit Tremoulinas in the final minute of normal time.

90+1minsWe have now played the first minute of the three additional minutes.

FTIt is all over at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma as France have defeated Italy 2-1 in the friendly international. Stephan El Shaarawy gave the lead to the Azzurri in the 35th minute, but two minutes later Mathieu Valbuena equalised. Then midway through the second half Bafetimbi Gomis scored for Les Bleus.

FTItaly hit the France crossbar twice, first through Mario Balotelli in the 10th minute and then through Emanuele Giaccherini in the 87th minute.

FTI hope that you enjoyed our live coverage of the game here on Sports Mole. Goodnight and goodbye from me.

Cesare Prandelli
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