In the ultimate decider of gets through from the “Group of Champions" -- Costa Rica already booked their passage -- Italy face Uruguay on Tuesday needing only a draw to advance. The Uruguayans must win to keep playing.
DIFFERING TRAJECTORIES These teams come into this game on very different paths following their second games. Uruguay got an uplifting performance from Luis Suárez to defeat England, 2-1, collecting their first win of the tournament. On the other side, Italy were stonewalled by a Costa Rican defense in a match that ended 1-0 in favor of the Ticos. The Azzurri will need the form they showed against England when they face off against the Uruguayans.
SUAREZ VS. BALOTELLI: In the matchup within the matchup two of the best, and most controversial, strikers will take the field against each other in Natal. Suarez and Italy's Mario Balotelli have both scored in this tournament and will look to add to their tallies on Tuesday. Each are as likely to snatch the headlines in a positive or negative way.
3RD-PLACE REMATCH: This is a rematch of the 2013 Confederations Cup 3rd-place game that took place almost a year ago in Salvador. That day, they played to a stalemate, 2-2, after 120 minutes. Italy’s goals came from two players who aren’t even on the World Cup team while both of Uruguay’s came from Edinson Cavani. Italy won in penalties.
FORLORN FORLAN: Diego Forlan was not in the starting lineup and did not come off the bench against England on Thursday. This is astounding considering he was the best player at the 2010 World Cup and was awarded the Golden Ball. With stars like Suarez and Cavani there isn’t much room Forlan. Have we seen the last of him at the World Cup or will he have more moments like these?
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Luis Suarez, forward, Uruguay – He scored in his first game of the World Cup and is aiming to make this his tournament after seeing his teammate win the Golden Ball four years ago.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Matteo Darmian, defender, Italy – The 24-year-old has been one of Italy’s best attacking threats, flying up the left wing. The Torino man unleashed a screamer against Costa Rica that just barely went over the crossbar.