Italy 0 Uruguay 1: Three talking points
Italy 0 Uruguay 1: Three talking points as Uruguay progress to the last 16 at the expense of Cesare Prandelli's men
Super Mario, off the boil?
Mario Balotelli has, much like the 2013-14 Serie A campaign, looked out of sorts at the World Cup. At times isolated or disinterested, at others, bullied and dominated by opposition defenders. With so much talent, Balotelli has done little to light up Brazil the way talismanic figures Neymar and Lionel Messi have done for their respective nations. What is most disappointing is that on his day, Balotelli is capable of being the ‘go to’ player for the Azzurri require. The curtain falls on Italy’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and for Balotelli – a yellow card for a high challenge which would have ruled him out of the next game and a knock which forced his withdrawal at half-time serves as his final moments.
Uruguay advance to the knockout stages, where they will face the winner of Group C. Colombia are in the driving seat ahead of tonight’s final round of group games that kick off simultaneously, having claimed maximum points so far. Should the Coffee Growers make it three wins out of three, a mouth-watering South American clash between the two sides would await. Colombia face Japan, a team led by Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni and need a win to have any chance of progressing to the knockout phase – a tall order when you factor in the attacking threat of Jose Peckerman’s side, spearheaded by James Rodriguez, who has netted two goals in two games.
Italy’s impotent attack
The Azzurri were at ease both defensively and in possession for long periods even after Claudio Marchisio’s red card, but lacked any real potency in the final third. Balotelli has looked off the boil all tournament and the likes of Ciro Immobile, Antonio Cassano and Alessio Cerci failed to leave the net bulging when called upon. The numbers game caught up with the Italians and they conceded with 10 minutes to play – there was nothing Gianluigi Buffon could do about it. If Italy had been more fruitful in attack and scored the vitally important first goal, a draw would have been enough to see them through. However, the Azzurri may well have struggled in the next phase, with Balotelli suspended and the rest of the Italian forwards left wanting.