For all of Luis Suarez‘s offensive prowess and sometimes immaturity on the field that Italy had to worry about in Tuesday’s Group D finale at the 2014 World Cup, it was Diego Godín who undid any dreams Italy had of advancing to the knockout stages in the end.
Godín’s header in the 81st minute provided the lone strike in Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over the Italians, a result Uruguay had to have to advance. Italy would have advanced with a draw, and sought an equalizing goal desperately late to no success.
Italy will be left wholly frustrated by this result, and there is no consolation in the quick turnaround as preparations begin for qualification to Euro 2016. Paired with Uruguay, traditional underperformers England, and underdogs-turned-group winners Costa Rica, few would have predicted Italy not to make the knockout rounds.
The Italians have won four World Cups, and that doesn’t happen without knowing how to prevail in difficult matches against tough opponents. However, such class and resourcefulness wasn’t found today.
It all started to go south for Italy on the hour when Claudio Marchisio was sent off for a foul, and the Italians were unable to withstand the Uruguay onslaught that finally led to Godín’s strike nine minutes from full time. Italy will feel further hard done by from an incident later when Suarez, he of multiple incidents of biting other players, appeared to go in for a possible chomp on the left shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini prior to the Godín goal.
However, replays were inconclusive and showed more of Suarez’s head aimed toward Chiellini’s left shoulder and the side of the his head. Chiellini’s attempts to show officials (or anyone who would look) his shoulder fell unrewarded. Of course, it would still be an issue if it were just a headbutt, but Suarez was not carded for the incident either way.
That said, complaints or feelings of being dealt a bad hand at this World Cup won’t do the Italians any good. Some nations can excuse their inability to get out of a group at the World Cup because of stiff competition, but Group D wasn’t labeled the “Group of Death” like Group G (the United States‘ group). It didn’t feature the Brazil, and it didn’t feature the 2010 World Cup champions and finalists, Spain and the Netherlands respectively, like Group B did.
Given one final match with all to play for, and perhaps most importantly only needing a draw, The Italians couldn’t even manage to keep 11 players on the field, let alone find the goal they needed. Now, the World Cup is over for the Azzurri. They will talk about the officiating, whatever it was Suarez did, and maybe an unfair group; but in the end, Italy just didn’t get it done and have deservedly been eliminated.