NATAL (AFP) – The World Cup hopes of Italy and Uruguay will be on the line when the two former former champions clash Tuesday as England bring the curtain down on a miserable campaign against Costa Rica.
The Italians face the Uruguayans in a Group D game in Natal battling to avoid joining Spain, England, Bosnia and Croatia on the European scrap-heap.
Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri need to avoid defeat against Uruguay, who trail them in Group D by goal-difference to stave off an early and ignominious return to Rome. Costa Rica are already qualified from the group.
Prandelli, though, insists he will not resort to classic Italian ‘catenaccio’ ultra-defensive tactics to try to make the second round.
“We are still in the competition and we’re feeling positive,” he said.
“We’re concentrated on this match and we’re determined to win it.”
Meanwhile, England manager Roy Hodgson has given youth and reserves a chance to restore some respect to their failed campaign in the final match against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.
He made nine chances to the team that started the first two matches with young and inexperienced players such as Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Phil Jones coming into the team.
As the inquests into the England flop continued, captain Steven Gerrard said Tuesday the shrinking pool of players in the country’s Premier League would hamper efforts to rebuild.
“Sitting here now, we are not in a position of strength. The England manager and players need some help because this pool of players we pick from can’t get any smaller and if anything it’s got to grow,” Gerrard said.
“We have to get the balance right of still having the best league in the world but expanding the pool of players for this England manager and the England managers in the future.”
In later games on Tuesday, Colombia need just a point against Japan in Cuiaba to secure top spot in Group C while Ivory Coast, who play Greece in Fortaleza, are in pole position to join them.
A victory would guarantee the Ivorians a last 16 berth, whereas a draw would open the door to Japan, should they manage to beat Colombia.
Greece can still qualify by winning, but if Japan are also victorious, they would need to make up a difference of two goals.
Japan’s chances of securing the result they need may be boosted if Colombia coach Jose Pekerman decides to change his starting line-up.
“We have trained with all the players. We have tested many players and we have considered many possible changes but I won’t confirm until (Tuesday) who will play,” Pekerman said on the eve of the match.
“There might be some changes compared with the last match but I haven’t decided exactly how many changes,” he added.
Immobile in with Balotelli for Italy decider
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has reshuffled his starting line-up for the make-or-break final Group D clash against Uruguay, with Ciro Immobile given his first World Cup start alongside fellow striker Mario Balotelli.
Prandelli pledged the four-time champions would go out looking for a win and deployed a loose 3-5-2 formation that will allow the Azzurri to defend in numbers and give them options in attack.
Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini will play either side of Leonardo Bonucci in an all-Juventus back three, with wingbacks Mattia De Sciglio and Matteo Darmian expected to play key roles in defence and attack.
Andrea Pirlo will marshall the central midfield alongside Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio, with Balotelli and Immobile, playing for the first time together in a competitive game, completing the line-up.
Uruguay, fourth place finishers in South Africa four years ago, need a win to go through to the last 16.
Coach Oscar Tabarez will field an unchanged side from the one that beat England 2-1 last week, with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani leading their attack in the Celeste’s usual 4-4-2 formation.
Gianluigi Buffon (capt); Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Matteo Darmian, Marco Verratti, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Mattia De Sciglio; Ciro Immobile, Mario Balotelli
Coach: Cesare Prandelli (ITA)
Fernando Muslera; Martin Caceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin (capt), Alvaro Pereira; Alvaro Gonzalez, Egidio Arevalo, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Rodriguez; Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez
Coach: Oscar Tabarez (URU)
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (MEX)