World Cup 2014 Group D preview: Italy v Uruguay
Italy are unbeaten in tournament meetings with Uruguay, but Coral rate both the Azzurri and La Celeste equal at 17/10 for victory in this winner-takes-all Group D game. There isn’t room for both in the knockout phase, and a draw (21/10) will send Cesare Prandelli’s team through.
Five-time winners Italy are odds-on at 2/5 to join Costa Rica in the last 16, however, with Oscar Tabarez 7/4 to take Uruguay through this pool and qualify. A penalty shoot-out was required to separate the Azzurri and La Celeste last time they met, following a 2-2 draw in the third-place play-off encounter at the Confederations Cup last summer. A repeat scoreline here is 14/1.
Both nations have suffered giant-killings in this group, so it is all about how they respond. Uruguay have played and won since Costa Rica sprung that first shock, while Italy were embarrassed by the Central Americans last time out.
Prandelli and Tabarez will once again be looking to their star turns in attack to land a knockout blow on the other. Edinson Cavani had his most impressive display to date in international football in the last meeting of the Azzurri and La Celeste.
He netted twice in that third-place play-off and kept his end of the bargain by converting his spot kick in the shoot-out. Cavani is 9/1 to bag a brace or better again, 7/4 for a goal anytime and 6/1 to score last.
Strike partner Luis Suarez, meanwhile, made his return from knee surgery with similar exploits against England. He is 4/1 for two goals or more once again here, and 7/2 to be on target first. Suarez is an 18/1 shot to be World Cup top scorer too.
Tabarez could keep faith with the same compact 4-3-1-2 set-up he went with in the Three Lions encounter, and it remains to be seen whether ageing centre back and captain Diego Lugano returns in defence. Maxi Pereira is available again after a ban.
Azzurri boss Prandelli, meanwhile, will be tempted to tinker yet again after the Costa Rica loss. Italy were poor in all areas there, but Mario Balotelli will want to make amends. The fiery forward is 5/4 to score anytime. Daniele De Rossi and playmaker Andrea Pirlo are midfield mainstays, but other places are up for grabs.
Wingers Lorenzo Insigne (7/4 to get a goal) and Alessio Cerci (11/4) may be given the chance to show what they can do again, should La Celeste get their noses in front. Neither nation has yet kept a clean sheet at the Brazil finals, so they are rated equal 12/5 chances to shut the other out.
All impetus should come from Uruguay here, because they need the win to advance. Prandelli may opt for a defensive game, and an alternative set-up for him is three centre halves and wing backs. Odds on an Azzurri win to nil at 19/5 are tempting, if Leonardo Bonucci joins Juventus clubmates Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli in front of Gianluigi Buffon.
Back pragmatic coach Prandelli to pull of another tactical masterstroke, but Tabarez’s team should score, so an Italy win with that occurring is brilliant value at 9/2.