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Confederations Cup Uruguay v Italy

It would be quite understandable if Uruguay and Italy just went through the motions in their third place play-off clash in Salvador on Sunday so soon after the heartbreaks of their semi-final defeats.

But we may instead be in for something of a treat. Contrary to what we might assume, third place play-offs have a tradition of goals and excitement, particularly in the World Cup (the Euros haven’t bothered with them since 1980), in which at least three goals have been scored in the last nine ‘Bronze Medal’ matches.

And in the Confederations Cup itself, the last two third-place play-offs have been thrillers – Germany beating Mexico 4-3 in 2005 and Spain beating South Africa 3-2 in 2009, both after extra time. Perhaps teams just ‘go for it’ more with the pressure off and there is also the chance of strikers getting the goal(s) they need to be the tournament’s leading goalscorer, in this case the Golden Shoe.

So Coral’s prices for a high-score this weekend are well worth a second look – for instance, 3-2 to Italy is rated a 25-1 shot, as is 3-2 to Uruguay.

Italy are slight favourites with Coral at 6/4 to win the game over 90 minutes (7/4 Uruguay, 23/10 the draw) and it is fair to say that the Azzuri impressed more by taking Spain to penalties than Uruguay did when losing 2-1 to Brazil.

After giving goals away for fun in their previous two matches, Italy tightened up no end at the back against the World Champions, while at the same time breaking so effectively when they had the opportunity that they could, and probably should, have had the game wrapped up by half time.

Italy look a very good side when they get it right and surely can’t squander as many chances on goal against Uruguay as they did against Spain (almost all of them headers, by the way).

Coral’s 14/1 quote Italy to win the World Cup next year, as compared to 50/1 Uruguay, is also an indication of their superiority, but you have to wonder how much the Europeans will be up for this, both physically and mentally, following their exertions on Thursday night.

It was very hot and humid in Belo Horizonte and Italy gave absolutely everything. Unsurprisingly, they began to wilt as the second half wore on and by the end of extra time many of their players were just about out on their feet.

For this reason, it might be better to side with Uruguay, especially with Luis Suarez (9/2 to score first, 6/5 at any time) and Abel Hernandez (6/1 and 7/4) both holding a outside chances of pipping Spain’s Fernando Torres to the Golden Shoe.

Written by Jon Freeman