ITALY: Gearing Up For A Critical Uruguay Match

A win or draw sends the Azzurri to the Round of 16
by Al DiFranco   |   Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bycolored – column on Ottawa Fury & the Ottawa area soccer scene.

Italy and Uruguay enter the penultimate match of Group D with one thing in common: both lost to the Cinderella story of this year’s World Cup, Costa Rica. The European and South American behemoths of the beautiful game were both able to defeat England, leaving this match as the deciding factor in which of these two top ten in the world teams will advance to the Round of 16.

How Italian will the Italians play?

The big criticism of Italian soccer in recent World Cups has been that they play too conservatively. Well, that conservative play led to a World Cup title in 2006, but back then they had a stellar defense led by since-retired stalwarts Fabio Cannavaro and Allesandro Nesta.

I remember watching that 2006 Italian National Team vividly and - 2014 Italian National Team - you are no 2006 Italian National Team.

This year’s Azzurri are sparked by the fire of midfielder Daniele De Rossi, the creativity of Andrea Pirlo, and the quick-strike capability of Mario Ballotelli. De Rossi is nursing a calf injury, which is likely to keep him out of the lineup – a big blow to the heart and soul of this team.

Cesare Prandelli is not one to play for an ugly draw. I don’t see Balotelli playing holding forward all day trying to milk the clock. Uruguay will be aggressive and the Italian back three/four will be tested often.

The Prediction

When it’s all said and done, I see Italy holding off Uruguay with a 1-1 draw, advancing to the Round of 16. Look for Gianluigi Buffon to put off his international retirement for just a bit longer, giving us one more stellar performance in his illustrious career.

NEXT UP: If Italy wins, a second place finish in Group D is most likely (unless Costa Rica suffers an overwhelming loss to England). Presumed Group C winner Colombia would then await, with a match scheduled for Saturday, June 28, at 4 pm eastern time in Rio de Janeiro. 

Al DIFRANCO

Nationality:
USA
College:
Ohio State
Club Domestic:
Columbus Crew
Club Foreign:
AC Milan, Everton
Passionate fan of the USMNT, Al is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Outlaws. He also loves to follow and discuss Premier League and Serie A. Named his daughter Mia after a certain soccer legend.
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