Dive, Dive: A Sinking Superpower's 'Pathetic' Performance : Show Me Your Cleats! - World Cup 2010 Blog When it comes to World Cup theatrics, Italy's "deeply pathetic" play-acting in Sunday's draw with New Zealand is unrivaled.
NPR logo Dive, Dive: A Sinking Superpower's 'Pathetic' Performance

Dive, Dive: A Sinking Superpower's 'Pathetic' Performance

Italian Drama
Alessandra Tarantino/AP

The Kiwis of New Zealand became the tournament's most lovable underdogs with Sunday's draw against Italy. You can argue about which match so far has been the greatest upset: Switzerland over Spain; Algeria's draw with England; Serbia's win over Germany. But I say the Kiwis have outplayed their God-given place in the soccer pantheon more than any team.

And how sweet it would have been if cherry-cheeked 18-year-old Chris Wood's very near miss had snuck into the net in the closing minutes?

If I appear to have absolutely no sympathy or respect for the Azzuri, it's because I don't.  Their game strategy amounted to this: dive a lot. Their lone goal came on a penalty kick after the referee made a silly, petty call in a little tug of Daniele De Rossi's jersey by Tommy Smith.

Everyone on the Italian side looked like Cristiano Ronaldo at his worst. If the Italians had directed the energy devoted to their play-acting into some heart and hussle, they surely would have beaten the outgunned underdogs. Their low-rent play made the New Zealand performance that much more noble.

One of the ESPN commentators called the Italians diving, whiny game posture "deeply pathetic." He made the right call.

And so far in this tournament, the big European superpowers are looking mighty puny.