It’s Tuesday morning in Milan, and the headline of the most read Italian newspaper, Gazetta Dello Sport, reads “No, going home, NO” ahead of Italy’s life or death clash against Uruguay today at 6pm CET.
The “Estadio Las Dunas” forecasts rain and slightly lower temperatures than normal (28 Celsius) 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.
Italian manager Prandelli is suspected to go with a 3-5-2 starting both A.C Milan striker Mario Balotelli, and Borussia Dortumund newcomer, and former Torino striker Ciro Immobile. The pair will go head to head with Suarez-Cavani up front as well as Nicolas Lodeiro behind for support.
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.
Lineup: Buffon-Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini-Darmian-Veratti-Pirlo-Marchisio-De Sciglio-Balotelli-Immobile
Bench: Sirigu, Abate, Paletta, Thiago Motta, Candreva, Aquilani, Parolo, Cassano, Cerci, Insigne
Lineup: Muslera, A.Pereira, Godin, Gimenez, Caceres, C.Rodriguez, Arevalo Rios, A. Gonzalez, Suarez Lodeiro, Cavani
Bench: Munoz, Fucile, Maxi Pereira, Coates, Gargano, Perez, Ramirez, Hernandez, Forlan, Stuani
Referee: Rodriguez (Mexico)
This is article is reblogged from World Soccer Talk. Check out the open thread, and more of my writing here