I could almost hear Nero playing his fiddle today as Italy joined their fellow finalists last time around, France, at the airport. No doubt about it this is the shock of the tournament so far. Most of the players will be wondering why they bothered to re-build Rome as they feel they may now end up being slaughtered by a baying public in the Colosseum. Rumours of a raffle type thingy for tickets to the bloodbath are not true.
The Italians, cautious as usual, payed the ultimate price when Slovakia hit them with three goals. The game only came alive in the final ten minutes when Slovakia took a 2-0 lead springing the Italians forward to grab one of their own. Not to be outdone the Slovaks plundered another against dreadful Italian defending to make it 3-1. With a manager like Lippi it was no surprise that the Italians had the last word when they made it 3-2 within a minute.
It was not to be. Despite missing a last second chance to qualify for the next round the 'Lippi' one was seen running down the tunnel at the final whistle and wishing he had been born in the Faroe Islands..
In the other match of the afternoon Paraguay and New Zealand played out a scoreless draw leaving the Paraguayans top of the group. New Zealand will remember this World Cup for many reasons but they leave for Wellington with their boots unbeaten. Shame really.
Holland made it three wins on the trot against Cameroon. Goals from Van Persie and Huntelaar was enough to see that the Cameroons go home much to the disappointment of dancing guru, Roger Milla.
Denmark were favourites to beat Japan in the groups other game but true to the tournament form Japan beat the former European Champions with ease. Goals from Honda, Endo and Okazai eased the Japanese into the knockout round and they will fancy their chances against Paraguay playing this brand of sushi football.
Despite their historical effort against the Italians they are rewarded with a last-16 tie against the Dutch who have not looked stretched so far. There's an air of togetherness about the Dutch this time having had previous campaigns plagued by dissent in the camp. I don't want to speak too soon but I'd love it if they won it. Love it!