After a less than glamorous loss to Costa Rica on Saturday, Italy finds themselves with their back against the wall in a must-win or draw match against Uruguay. Here are three things Italy must do to defeat Uruguay.
Italy Needs To Play Defensively
The Azzurri has looked less than stellar when teams counter-attack them, and as a result, they need to play a bit more conservatively on offense. All tournament long, I have said that they need to pick up the pace and come out of their defensive-minded shell, but now they need to play with more patience and try to eliminate creating defensive holes as a result of the offensive attack. If they cannot do this, Luis Suarez will have a field day against Italy.
Italy Needs Width On the Offensive Side
This goes in-hand with the emphasis on patience, but Italy needs to work the wings more and create opportunities from the edge, not from trying to penetrate the center of the pitch. This will make it more challenging for Uruguay to counter attack due to the speed of the Italian fullbacks. Working the ball along the wings essentially lets Italy slow down the game, whilst still having the opportunity to speed it up at a moments notice due to the quickness of Ignazio Abate and Matteo Darmian.
Italy Needs To Play for the Win, Not Draw
Yes, Italy does need to play a defensive-minded game on Tuesday, but on top of that, they need to be playing for a win, not a draw. If they play for a draw, they will likely find themselves down early and playing catch-up most of the game. If they go out looking for 3 points instead of just sneaking into the knockout round, they will play a better, smarter, and a more challenging game that could give Uruguay fits.
It is a tough hand the Azzurri have been dealt, but frankly, they put themselves in this position. Beating Uruguay is not an insurmountable goal, but they should be counting their blessings that they can draw and advance, because knocking off Uruguay will not be easy.