One former World Cup champion down, one more will go home. Italy and Uruguay will meet today at the Arena das Dunas to decide who will join Costa Rica in progressing from Group D to the round 16 in Brazil.
Both teams have three points after beating England and losing against the Central American surprise package, but the Azzurri hold advantage thanks to their better goal difference, so they just need a draw to stay alive in the tournament.
The meek 1-0 defeat against Costa Rica has seen Prandelli come under pressure to adopt a more attacking approach for this crucial showdown and those prayers look set to be answered with the inclusion of Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile for injured defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi.
This change of personnel should lead to a shift from a four-man defence to three at the back, perhaps a risky move considering the quality of attackers the back line are set to come up against. Any teething problems in implementing this switch are sure to be pounced upon by a partnership of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez that looked back to their best straight away on the Liverpool man's return to the team against England, meaning an entertaining game should be in prospect.
However, Uruguay arrive with momentum on their side after Luis Suarez’s great display that led them to victory against England, on his return from injury. “The team did good things in the game against a rival that caused us much trouble”, said coach Oscar Tabarez in press conference.
For the European side, a defeat in this match would mean their second group phase elimination in a row, but Gianluigi Buffon is confident his nation will bounce back after being upset by Costa Rica. Uruguay will likely repeat the formation that started against England, while Italy are considering a tactical change, going from the 4-1-4-1 of their first two games to a 3-4-2-1 or 3-5-2.
Any teething problems in implementing this switch are sure to be pounced upon by a partnership of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez that looked back to their best straight away on the Liverpool man's return to the team against England, meaning an entertaining game should be in prospect.
A draw is good enough for Italy to qualify as they have a superior goal different to Uruguay. The Uruguayans need to win to reach the knock-out stages.
Italy have managed just two wins in nine previous attempts against Uruguay (including 1980 Copo d’Oro, Drawn-4 Lost-3).
Uruguay last faced Italy in the 2013 Confederations Cup; they were beaten for the third place, by way of a penalty shootout.
Italy have lost only three of their 19 World Cup games against South American opposition - round 1 game against Chile in 1962, the 1970 final and the 1978 third place game against Brazil.
Uruguay have faced Italy twice in the FIFA World Cup; they failed to score in both matches (Drawn-1 Lost-1).
Uruguay’s third group game against Italy will be their 50th at the World Cup.
Italy have been caught offside 18 times in their opening two group games; twice as many times as Uruguay (9).
Uruguay have scored three goals from just five shots on target so far.
Luis Suarez has netted five times in his seven World Cup appearances.
Edinson Cavani has played a hand in three of Uruguay’s last five goals at the World Cup (two goals and one assist).
Mario Balotelli (6) and Antonio Candreva (4) have had 50% of Italy’s shots on goal so far (20; excluded blocked).
Daniele De Rossi has attempted 212 passes for Italy so far in the World Cup.