The final day of Group D competition at the World Cup will have plenty of drama thanks to Tuesday’s big showdown between Italy and Uruguay.
The winner of this game will head to the knockout round. The loser, well, we know what happens to the loser. The team goes home wondering what they could have done differently.
Whichever team misses the mark will be disappointed. If Italy fail to make it out of group stage play, this will be the second World Cup in a row in which the Italians haven’t come through. It seems like so long ago that Italy actually won a World Cup, but it was only eight years ago with the 2006 title.
As for Uruguay, they finished fourth in 2010 when they lost in the consolation match, so to miss the knockout round four years after a nice showing would be a bitter pill to swallow.
A little bit of history is not on Uruguay’s side. The last time Uruguay beat back-to-back opponents from the European continent came in 1954, so this suggests 60 years of futility might continue. On the flip side, an Italian team hasn’t lost to a South American soccer squad since the 1978 World Cup.
It’s easy to see this match has a lot of drama, which should keep fans glued to their TV sets.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are two of Uruguay’s top threats, with a combined 62 goals between them. A high-scoring, potent offense could help Uruguay, but their defense has surrendered four goals while the offense scored three.
Italy have one small problem to contend with as leading scorer Daniele De Rossi (15 goals) will be out of action due to a leg injury. Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli have 13 goals apiece, and that could help Italy regain an even keel in this matchup.
Prediction: Italy 3, Uruguay 2
This match could be one of the higher-scoring ones in World Cup group play. Uruguay will put up a huge fight, but all of that baggage surrounding not being able to win two games in a row against European opponents might rear its ugly head. Not to mention Italy have a tremendous streak of success against South America in the World Cup, and the country’s not about to let that go.
Italy moves on, but just barely.