Featured Matches
Previous
Arsenal
Besiktas
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Besiktas
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Steaua Bucuresti
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Malmo FF
SV Salzburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bradford City
Leeds United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
León
Herediano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Municipal
Pachuca
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cobresal
General Díaz
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Trujillanos
9:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional Potosí
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
River Plate
Universidad Católica
11:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
Deportivo La Guaira
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Alianza Lima
Barcelona
2:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Atletico Rafaela
Newell's Old Boys
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rosario Central
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
River Plate
Defensa y Justicia
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Boca Juniors
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Irapuato
U.A.N.L
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Celaya
ESPNDeportes 12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Oaxaca
Chiapas
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Mérida
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Zacatepec
Guadalajara
ESPNDeportes 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América RN
Atletico Paranaense
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Cruzeiro
Santa Rita
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Ceará
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bragantino
Corinthians
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
Flamengo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Palmeiras
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
LDU Quito
Deportivo Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Seoul
Pohang Steelers
0
0
LIVE 62'
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Guangzhou Evergrande
Western Sydney Wanderers
0
0
LIVE 0'
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Amazulu
Bloem Celtic
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mamelodi Sundowns
Orlando Pirates
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Pretoria Univ
Free State Stars
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Silver Stars
Kaizer Chiefs
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
SuperSport United
Mpumalanga Black Aces
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
Postp
Game Details
Carmelita
Club Sport Uruguay
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cartagines
Perez Zeledon
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Antigua
Marquense
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Petapa
Coatepeque
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vida
Marathon
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

No recent activity

 Posted by James Horncastle
Jun 23, 2014

Italy talented enough to beat Uruguay

Italy's captain Gianluigi Buffon says his side would be seen as a failure if they don't reach the knock out stages. Buffon will win his 142nd cap in the game against Uruguay on Tuesday.

After the midnight dance with England in Manaus came the nightmare with Costa Rica in Recife. Italy now have to wake up and pull themselves together for their game against Uruguay in Natal on Tuesday if they are to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup.

"We mustn't think negative," insisted coach Cesare Prandelli. Unable to resist staring into the abyss and allowing dark thoughts to enter into print, the papers back home have contemplated the worst-case scenario: an early exit in back-to-back World Cups.

It hasn't happened to Italy in almost half a century [1962 and 1966]. "Speriamo di no," wrote La Gazzetta dello Sport, meaning "We hope not." The Azzurri hold their destiny in their hands. Two results out of three -- a win or a draw -- will be enough to see them through to the next round.

Encouragement can be taken from their last meeting with Uruguay a year ago. Italy twice went ahead in the Confederations Cup third-place playoff. On both occasions Edinson Cavani equalised. But a repeat of that 2-2 score line in 90 minutes (Italy ultimately prevailed on penalties) would suffice.

The team Italy fielded that day in Salvador was markedly different than the one expected on Tuesday. Christian Maggio, Davide Astori, Alessandro Diamanti, Stephan El Shaarawy and Alberto Gilardino aren't even in the squad. Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi are injured.

On paper, Italy look better now than they did then against a full-strength Uruguay team. In practice, however, the impressions Italy have given so far in Brazil have been mixed. The high of beating England with "Tikitalia" was followed by the low of losing to Costa Rica. Whether that defeat can be put down to a bad day at the office -- a case of "second-game syndrome" -- has been the subject of postmortem debate.

With a few tweaks, Cesare Prandelli's Italy should be able to advance past a weaker Uruguay side.

Prandelli's selection was mistaken. In hindsight, he perhaps shouldn't have moved Matteo Darmian from right-back to left so Giorgio Chiellini could return to partner Andrea Barzagli in the centre ahead of the disappointing Gabriel Paletta. It broke up one of Italy's match-winning combinations against England: the Darmian-Antonio Candreva tandem on the right. Ignazio Abate couldn't replicate the same dynamic. Short of confidence and form, he was also at fault for Costa Rica's first goal.

Thiago Motta's inclusion in midfield ahead of the tired Marco Verratti also contributed to Italy losing some of their sense of invention, bravado and, crucially, rhythm to their play -- although much of the credit for upsetting that must go to Costa Rica and their intelligent pressing game.

Prandelli's changes also didn't make the impact he desired. Afterward, he said that he expected more from them. Antonio Cassano lost the ball more times in a half than his teammates who played 90 minutes. It was this "soft" attitude, plus the tactical and technical mistakes and imprecision, that Prandelli lamented after the game, rather than the stifling midday sun and the toll it exacted. "The heat is the same for everyone," he said.

But is it? In this World Cup, Italy have played in 30 degrees Celsius and 78.5 percent humidity on average. That's higher than anyone else. To put that into some perspective, Uruguay by contrast have been exposed to 21 degrees and 67.5 percent humidity, a much kinder average; take the temperature of their game against England in Sao Paulo, for instance. It was 12 degrees Celsius. Other countries like the Netherlands (14 degrees) and France (18) have also played at least one of their opening two games in cooler climes.

Italy have instead been "cooked and eaten," according to La Gazzetta. Claudio Marchisio complained of hallucinations after the England game in Manaus. Antonio Candreva vomited following the capitulation to Costa Rica in Recife. "We hope it rains in Natal," said Italy's doctor, Enrico Castellacci.

- Miguel: Uruguay prepare for critical test
- Daniele De Rossi injury a blow for Italy

Italy's experience at the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer and their pre-tournament training in a sauna appears to have gone only so far in mitigating the draining effect of the conditions. Italy ran 6 kilometers fewer against Costa Rica than they did when they faced England. Some have put that down to the deterioration of their physical condition. Others have instead claimed that Costa Rica did so well at compressing the space, playing a high line and executing their offside trap a record 11 times, that Italy had little or nowhere to run.

Whether Uruguay can do the same remains to be seen. Their game plan is different, after all. The victory over England has been interpreted as a turning point in their tournament. The stats, however, say otherwise. They had fewer shots on target (only 2), a poorer pass completion rate (63.8 percent) and less possession (37.5 percent), and they were forced deeper by England than against Costa Rica. As a collective, the prevailing wisdom is that Uruguay aren't great. The difference continues to be made by a great individual: Luis Suarez.

Italy kept him quiet a year ago -- remember, it was Cavani who came to the fore instead -- and must do so again Tuesday. Prandelli is expected to change the 4-1-4-1 formation with a Y-shaped midfield to the more dependable Juventus 3-5-2 that he has fallen back on in the past. The goalkeeper and defence all come from the Italian champions, as do Pirlo and Marchisio. It's a system the Torino players know well, too. Darmian will be restored to the right-hand side now that Mattia De Sciglio is fit again. Verratti should also return.

There is great anticipation at the prospect of seeing Ciro Immobile, the Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Serie A, perhaps start alongside Mario Balotelli. Immobile scored a hat trick and laid on two assists in Italy's final warm-up game with Fluminense, and the clamour for him to be more involved has grown and grown. He was left on the bench against Costa Rica, and Prandelli had the intention of throwing him on, only for Marchisio to pick up a knock and force the manager to rethink. Alessio Cerci was introduced instead. Immobile should now get his opportunity.

With El Pistolero (Suarez) and El Matador (Cavani) on one side, and Super Mario and Ciruzzo (Immobile) on the other, Italy-Uruguay promises to be quite a shootout. It's the last-chance saloon for qualification to the round of 16.

James Horncastle

James Horncastle is a European Football writer who contributes to ESPN, BBC Sport, Guardian Football Weekly, FourFourTwo and The Blizzard. You can follow him on twitter @JamesHorncastle