Italy will need to be more on the ball than they were against Costa Rica if they are to beat Uruguay and make it into the last 16 this Tuesday in Natal.
Certainly, La Celeste took up the slack after their lacklustre defeat to Costa Rica and their wily veteran former Milan and Cagliari Coach, Oscar Tabarez, made five changes for their 2-1 win over England. However, the biggest shot in the arm in those changes was the return of the talismanic Luis Suarez. Always in the right place at the right time, he opened the scoring with a superbly placed header after a precise pass from ex-Napoli ace Edinson Cavani, who sacrificed being a forward to close down England’s ‘Pirlo’, Steven Gerrard.
In the second half after forcing the ponderous English into mistakes, Suarez smashed home his second following a long ball out of defence from ex-Lazio ‘keeper Fernando Muslera. The Liverpool striker may not have been 100 per cent, but he was still too much for England and will doubtless be right up for it when playing Italy.
“It was a fantastic result - but it is not the job done,” said Suarez after the game. “We need to make sure we go and get the right result against Italy - and then if we progress out of the group we can start to dream about what is possible.”
Uruguay only have had 37 per cent of the possession but they made their six shots on target count and this had more to do with their preparation than most anything else.
“We always knew we were not among the favourites,” said Tabarez before the tournament. “But we knew that if we prepared well we can be a very difficult opponent to take on, and that is going to be the centre of our thoughts.”
One place they didn’t need to prepare too well was their forward line and this is where Italy need to be organised themselves. No sloppy defending like England or they will be torn apart. Certainly Galatasaray’s Muslera believes that despite Italy’s overall strength, Uruguay’s strike duo of Suarez and Cavani can blaze their way into history. “Italy have a complete squad; strong in every department,” he emphasised. “Pirlo is a champion and Buffon continues to amaze: he’s 36 and yet it seems like he is only 25. However, we do have Suarez and Cavani who are a spectacular duo. One relies on strength the other speed but above all they can help us a lot because Cavani is very good at coming back.”
Suarez certainly needs no introduction as the Premier League’s Player of the Season and its top scorer. Meanwhile Italian fans know all about Cavani. The 27-year-old striker kicked off his Italian career with Palermo before moving to Napoli in 2010 and became Capocannoniere in 2012-13 with 29 goals after scoring 49 in his two previous campaigns with the Partenopei.
Like he was with Napoli, the PSG striker is as lethal in the area as 25 kgs of outdated pasta and prosciutto.
The player, who Tabarez describes as ‘the perfect son-in-law’, also knows all about Italy and feels it will not be easy playing them. “It’s a difficult round but we can make history against Italy leaving us with nice World Cup memories.”
Cavani also believes that Uruguay possesses a different mindset than before. “Our national team now goes into games looking to win not like in the past when we sometimes waited for our rivals to make a mistake,” he explained.
“Today we have a competitive team that will go out to win against Italy. Yet it won’t be easy as I think that the Italian team has some kind of mentality and that’s why I call them machines.
“Of course it is a dream of mine to win the World Cup and our whole side dreams the same as me.”
Italy has been warned.