(AFP) – Confident Luis Suarez said Uruguay will look to pounce on Italian weaknesses as the ‘Celeste’ bid to keep their World Cup dream alive with a win against the four-time champions in Natal on Tuesday.
Liverpool striker Suarez helped Uruguay get over their 3-1 opening defeat to Costa Rica by scoring a brace in a morale-boosting 2-1 win over England last week.
Coupled with Italy’s shock defeat to Costa Rica, who are already qualified for the last 16, it gave the former two-time champions hope of emulating their impressive 2010 campaign which ended at the semi-finals stage.
Suarez’s previous experience of playing against Italians comes down to a string of UEFA Cup games, as well as his side’s 2-2 draw in the third-place play-off in last year’s Confederations Cup, in which Italy prevailed 3-2 after a penalty shootout.
Italy require only a draw to book their last-16 ticket, and although Suarez expects a tough encounter against Cesare Prandelli’s side he believes Uruguay will rise to the challenge.
“From last year’s Confederations Cup I know how organised they are. If you leave them just an inch they will make you pay,” the 27-year-old said on Monday.
“But they have weaknesses as well as strengths, and we will try to exploit those weaknesses.
“We expect Italy to be tough opponents, but we know what’s at stake and we are going out there to qualify.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, who coached AC Milan during a spell in the 1990s, is more than familiar with the Italian game.
And the 67-year-old, known affectionately as ‘El Maestro’ (The Teacher), said the prospect of beating the Azzurri is a huge motivation.
“For me it would not be like winning any other match. The prospect of beating one of the best teams in the world is a huge motivation for me,” said Tabarez, who made his name leading Uruguayan giants Penarol to a fifth Copa Libertadores triumph.
“But we know it’s decisive. We will go home or we will stay.
“Earlier in the competition we depended on the results of others. Now, the task is clear.
“If we win we’re through, and we’re ready to rise to the challenge.”