ITALY vs NETHERLANDS, Pescara, 14/11/09
On Saturday, Official Football World Champions Italy will take on Unofficial Football World Champions the Netherlands. How much more of a build-up does one match need?
Italy have been official champions since the 2006 World Cup final, of course, and had a brief spell as unofficial – and undisputed – champions in early 2007.
The Dutch have held the unofficial title for 51 weeks, winning seven and drawing three of ten UFWC title matches.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi has called up debutants Davide Biondini of Cagliari and Antonio Candreva of Livorno. But he will be without Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who fractured a cheekbone in a clash with Inter’s Patrick Viera at the weekend.
For Holland, Bert van Marwijk welcomes back Bayern Munich midfielder Mark van Bommel after injury, and also recalls Nigel de Jong, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, who all missed last month’s UFWC draw with Australia in Sydney. Van Persie could be offered a central striking role following his strong run of form for Arsenal, and in the absence of out-of-favour Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The game will be played at the relatively small Stadio Adriatico in Pescara, Abruzzo, with all proceeds going to the victims of the recent Abruzzo earthquake. The stadium is home to Delfino Pescara 1936 (or Pescara Calcio), who play in Lega Pro Prima Divisione (formerly Serie C1).
Should Italy win, they will become undisputed Official and Unofficial Football World Champions, and they will take the UFWC title into a match against Sweden on the following Wednesday.
If the Netherlands win or draw, they will retain the UFWC title, and will look to defend it against Paraguay, also on Wednesday 18 November.