The headline on one of the most popular Italian newspapers, Gazetta Dello Sport, reads today “No going home; NO!” ahead of Italy’s do-or-die clash against Uruguay, which kicks off at Noon ET/9am PT today.
First the TV news and starting lineups:
Uruguay: Muslera; Cáceres, Giménez, Godín, A.Pereira; González, Arévalo Rios, C.Rodríguez, Lodeiro; Cavani, Suárez
Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Darmian, De Sciglio, Verratti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Balotelli, Immobile.
Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)
The “Estadio Las Dunas” forecasts rain and slightly lower temperatures than normal (28C) in the city of Natal.
High temperatures across Brazil are one of the culprits for European teams dropping like flies in the South American host country, with England and Spain already having been eliminated, while Portugal and Italy cling for life in their respective groups.
If Uruguay made Brazil cry in the 1950 Maracana final, perhaps they can outwit Italy this afternoon with a 4-3-1-2 expected from manager Tabarez.
With Barzagli and Chiellini set to shut down Suarez and Cavani, perhaps the Italian striker duo will do some damage and secure Italy a ticket to the next round. With Italy needing only a tie or win, the odds aren’t completely stacked against them.
Between 1994-2010, Italy have reached the round of 16 every tournament, except for 2010 in South Africa. They have reached the quarter finals or beyond in 94 (the year of the Roberto Baggio penalty disaster in the final vs. Brazil), 98, and of course 2006, when they were crowned FIFA World Cup Champions.
Uruguay, however, did not qualify for the World Cup in 1994, 1998, or 2006. They were eliminated from the group stages in 2002, and reached the semi-finals in 2010.
The biggest concern for the Azzurri is the major risk Prandelli is taking by starting Balotelli and Immobile together: They have never played together, EVER. Assistant Mauro Tassotti stated yesterday that “Balotelli does not have enough profound knowledge of the game, to play as a single striker. Ciro Immobile is a modern striker, he can play deep, he can play outside of the box, and he helps the team overall, inside and outside of the danger areas, moreover, he has a feel for the the goal.”
To try this out in a life or death match up can mean two things – it can go horribly wrong, to it could be magical for the Azzurri.