After a hard fought 2-1 victory over England, Uruguay will need to secure their spot in the round of 16 with a win against Italy. Costa Rica has surprised the world with their two victories over Italy and Uruguay, finishing top of the group and being the first to qualify for the next round. Uruguay will have to dig deep if they want to get a result against the Italians, who will be fighting for their lives. Let’s take a look at what Uruguay will need to do to come out as victors:
Keep Andrea Pirlo Quiet
Pirlo is the key play-maker for Italy, and if Uruguay wants to stand a chance, they’re going to need to make sure Pirlo does not get many chances to work his magic. Pirlo is like the “fine wine” of football and has seemingly gotten better with age, adjusting to his deep lying play-maker role, spreading balls wide and tucking in masterful free kicks.
Uruguay will likely need to put one of their best defensive midfielders on him, like Arevalo Rios, to make sure he is able to stay as quiet as possible throughout the 90 minutes. Without reverting to too defensive of a formation, one of the strikers will also need to collapse on Pirlo as well, which will force him to make the quicker pass and reduce his options. If Uruguay manage this, Italy will struggle to find options past Uruguay’s defense.
Feed Luis Suarez the Ball
This is not to say that Uruguay should leave all the attacking responsibilities to Luis Suarez, but they need to take advantage of the fact that they have one of the best players in the world playing up top as a striker for them. The more times Suarez has the ball, the more chances there will be for Uruguay to score.
Uruguay, at times, has had problems passing the ball around and channeling it to their strikers, so players like Nicolas Lodeiro and Arevalo Rios will need to make sure they can hold on to the ball and get the ball to their main man. A striker is nothing without good service, so the team as a whole is going to be vital in allowing Suarez to function at the highest level he can.
Keep The Same Defensive Strategy
Uruguay seemed a completely different team when Jose Gimenez replaced Diego Lugano as a central defender. Lugano has been crucial for Uruguay’s defense for the past decade, but his lack of pace was seen as one of Uruguay’s biggest weaknesses. With the Atletico Madrid partnership of Gimenez and Godin, Uruguay have a much better balanced defense, combining youth, pace, experience, and leadership all in one.
I expect Maxi Pereira to make his way back into the lineup as the starting right back after his red card suspension. However, it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Alvaro Pereira retain his spot after the performance he put on against England. Either way, Uruguay will need to perform as they did against England, and more, in order to qualify to the next round. Italy is going to be hungry as ever, and they’re not going to want to go out in the group stages like they did in the last World Cup. Mario Balotelli is going to be a handful for these defenders, but as long as they stick to Tabarez’s tactics and stay organized, Uruguay will be in a good position to finish 2nd in the group.