Italy vs. Uruguay is certainly the match to watch in Group D’s final round. Four-time World Cup champions Italy will hope to progress to the knockout stage, but their South American opponents have pedigree (two World Cup victories) and one of the best players in the world in Luis Suarez (pictured above).
What’s At Stake
Italy’s superior goal difference means they only need a win or draw to progress to the next round; Uruguay need all three points. If England beat Costa Rica, either team that wins today could win the group and avoid the surprising Colombians in the next round. For that to happen, Italy/Uruguay must win and Costa Rica must lose by a combined four goals.
Italy have named a surprise lineup that features five defenders and omits Brazilian-born midfielder Thiago Motta. Daniele De Rossi unsurprisingly misses out through injury.
Italy will most likely line up with four at the back – Darmian, Bonucci, Barzagli, and Chiellini – and use the extra defender, Matteo De Sciglio, as a shield in front of them. That’s the position De Rossi would have played, but De Sciglio will be assigned a more defensive brief than the Roma man played against Costa Rica and England. De Sciglio’s primary duty will be to mark Edinson Cavani, the deeper of two Uruguayan strikers, allowing the Italian centerbacks to focus on the more advanced Suarez.
Ahead of De Sciglio are Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti, who will try to play incisive balls for the Italian front three of Mario Balotelli, Claudio Marchisio, and World Cup debutant Ciro Immobile. That makes it 4-3-3 for Italy, with the midfield three split between one deep player (De Sciglio) and two advanced players (Pirlo and Verratti).
Uruguay have named the exact same lineup from their match against England, in which they played 4-1-3-2. Arevalo Rios is retained in his deep midfield destroyer role, but he’ll have two Italian center attacking midfielders to deal with instead of just Wayne Rooney. The band of three ahead of him (Alvaro Gonzalez, Cristian Rodriguez, and Nicolas Lodeiro) will have to provide support.
That may mean a lonely time for Edinson Cavani, the Uruguyan forward who played well behind Suarez against England to disrupt Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. He’s matched up directly against De Sciglio today in the space ahead of the Italian back four, and he shouldn’t have a problem marking the Italian midfielder out of the match. But doing so will probably mean Cavani is short of service unless the Uruguayan midfielders behind him can join him. He’s excellent at holding the ball up, but only if help eventually comes. The “3” in the Uruguayan 4-1-3-2 will be wearing many hats today.
Players to Watch
Italy: Ciro Immobile. Don’t let the name fool you; the young Italian’s movement will be crucial today. Balotelli (striker) and Marchisio (left winger) have defined roles, but it’s unclear where Immobile will play. He’ll probably start on the right and make clever runs to create space for Balotelli and Darmian, the way Candreva did against England.
Uruguay: Cavani. He’ll be important in defense and offense, just as he was against England.
Jon Champion and Stewart Robson, an all-English duo. Tune in to the other game, Costa Rica vs. England, for another all-English team in the form of Ian Darke and Steve McManaman.
Match-specific Drinking Games
Flagged: Take a sip whenever Italy are caught offside. How drunk? Steady buzz. The Italians (especially Pirlo) have often looked to play balls over the top for Balotelli in this Cup.
Pet Peeve: Take a shot whenever Stewart Robson accuses a player of “going down easily” or “looking for the foul.” How drunk?
He’s eased off the accusations a bit. You’ll be alright. I forgot Luis Suarez and the Italian national team are both playing. Do not try this game.
Countdown: Take a shot every fifteen minutes while the match remains scoreless. How drunk? Drunk. Italy only need a draw.
Italy: Grappa. Grappa can be highly alcoholic but still drinkable. Look out!
Uruguay: Máte. Tea. Sort of all or nothing with these two drinks, isn’t it?
– Read my general World Cup watching guide.
– Check out Zonal Marking, my favorite tactics website.
– See a commentary schedule or a review of each commentator.
– See where I’m getting my national drink recommendations.
– Check out other match previews from this group: Uruguay vs. England, England vs. Italy, Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
Picture credit: ESPN