It’s do or die for both Italy and Uruguay tomorrow at 12pm EST/9am PST. With mighty England already unceremoniously crashing out and upstart Costa Rica with its’ ticket punched, there is only one spot left in the knockout rounds for Group D.
For the Azzurri to advance they need a win or a draw. Their South American counterparts must win to continue.
Both teams are familiar with each other, thanks to their third-place game matchup at last summer’s Confederations Cup. After finishing tied at 2-2 the teams went to extra time and eventually penalties where Italy prevailed.
By the same token, both teams will feel like they can win the game. Uruguay is riding high thanks to Luis Suarez’s brilliance versus England. The team will look to use him and fellow goal-scoring standout Edinson Cavani to break down a sometimes slow Italian defense. On the other hand, the Italians should feel confident thanks to last summer’s penalty shootout triumph – a game where they played a similar Uruguay team to a deadlock without a number of key players, including Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta, Antonio Cassano, Mateo Darmian and most notably Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo.
Tactically, both teams aren’t married to a certain formation. Prandelli has become known for tactical flexibility, so the team shape really depends on the opposition and who’s available for selection. He’ll be without Daniele De Rossi, but other than that the rest is unknown. Recently, Prandelli has shown a penchant for a 4-1-4-1, However, he may go for a different look without De Rossi sitting in front of the back four.
Uruguay has used two strikers up top in both games. They played two banks of four behind Cavani and Diego Forlan in a 4-4-2 in their opening loss to Costa Rica. After that, a 4-1-2-1-2 was the order against England. In need of a win, Oscar Tabarez may opt for a 4-3-3 to utilize the trio of Cavani, Suarez and Forlan.
The game kicks off in Natal at 12pm EST/9am PST.