Italy hard done in loss to Uruguay

Published Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:04 PM by Patrick Nuss

Probably the most anticipated match of the day was also played on the first match time of the day, and that was between Italy and Uruguay. Sitting tied on points in Group D, behind World Cup revelation Costa Rica, Uruguay needed to win to advance, while Italy needed a win or tie. These two teams were the teams originally expected by most to move on from the group, so the implications this match had was a surprise to many. Would the Celestial Blue come out on top, or would it be the 4 time world champions Azurri?
                
The first half was one to forget… Fantastically boring. Italy lined up in a 3-5-1-1, with Balotelli being the lead striker and Pirlo directing the midfield with his splendid passing. Darmian, being rewarded for his good attacking play against England, was moved from right back to right mid, a questionable move by the coach. Uruguay, on the other hand, went out in a 4-4-2, stacking their centermids, and playing Cavani and Suarez up top, obviously hoping that the two world class players would link up with one another and put balls in the back of the net. These lineups, however, canceled each other out in a way, and no attacking player from either team was allowed any time or space.
                
I would love to tell you about the quality chances, but frankly, there were none. Suarez had a half chance after a good ball in, but was abruptly smothered by Buffon.
                
And that was the tale of the half. Neither team could do much, as the game was battled out in the midfield. In the first half alone there were 23 fouls, including a Balotelli yellow. This resulted in choppy and slow play that was not very fun to watch.
                
Going into the second half, we were left to hope that the two sides would pick it up. Italy was obviously pleased with the result, and was content to sit back and keep the ball (we have seen how well that strategy has turned out for other teams in the tournament thus far, though). Uruguay, thankfully, sensed this, and, needing the win, pressed more and more, searching for a goal to put them through.
                
The first really good chance of the match was created by Rodriguez, of Uruguay. He did well to beat his man down the left side and continued his run after sliding the ball to Suarez. The Liverpool man then cleverly lifted the ball into the box, catching Rodriguez in stride. Left 1 on 1 versus Buffon, he tried to go back post, but skewed his half volley wide of the goal. A poor end result for the South Americans, but definitely encouraging.
                
Seconds after that chance was the moment that changed the match. Marchisio picked up the ball in the midfield, and after beating the first man, lost control of the ball, turning the situation for possession into a 50-50 between him and Arevalo. He then went over the top of the ball trying to get it back, and winded up catching the Uruguayan in the shin with his studs. Arevalo went down, and the referee made his decision, RED CARD. The decision was met with fury from the Italian players, even Buffon sprinted from his goal to yell at the referee, and rightfully so. To me, it looked like Marchisio was trying to bring his leg across Arevalo to shield the ball, but accidentally caught him. A yellow card at the most, in my opinion. It was a clear accident. Harsh, bad decision from the referee, but that does not matter, as what he says unfortunately goes. Marchisio marched off the pitch, and the Italians were down to 10 men.
                
Uruguay then went for blood. They threw on an extra striker, Stauni, and went for the game.
                
Suarez had the best chance of the match minutes later, when a blocked Cavani shot was latched onto on top of the 18. He went to slide it in back post, but Gigi Buffon reacted quickly and parried it away. Great opportunity, but an even greater save. Minutes after that, Italy had their best, and really one, chance of the night, when Immobile picked up the ball and looked definite to score. All of a sudden, though, Gimenez threw himself into a tackle and blocked the shot, thus saving the goal and Uruguay’s World Cup hopes.
                
Suddenly, drama drama drama. Oh Luis Suarez, when will he learn? After battling with Chiellini in the box, Suarez leaned his head into the Italian centerback and looked to have bitten him. Chiellini freaked out and after going to ground, ran to the ref to show off the possible bite marks. Should be a red card to Suarez, a fine, and a suspension, at the very least. Something has to be done, as it is his third time to have done this act. We will be sure to hear more about this in the coming days,
                
Then, the captain struck. Diego Godin, Atletico Madrid defender, latched onto a corner with his head, and buried it into the corner of the goal, leaving Buffon no chance. 1-0 to Uruguay! Godin always seems to come through in these big moments, and this one has to be his biggest, possibly sending Uruguay on in the World Cup! Now it was up to Italy to go get one back, but with no true attackers on the field, it looked unlikely… Uruguay was almost there!
                
For the last minutes of the game, all Italy could generate were free kicks, which were all well defended by the South American side, much to the crowd’s delight. The, the referee blew his whistle, and the game was over. Uruguay will advance as second in the group, with Costa Rica topping the group through 3 splendid performances.

Italy will feel hard done by the ref after the very soft Marchisio red, and the should-have-been red of Luis Suarez. All in all, though, Italy did not have enough quality in the attack to go on. Uruguay will be hard to beat in the tournament, with lots of crowd support, and a very solid team everywhere on the field. If Suarez and Cavani can produce goals, look for Uruguay to make a run deep into the Cup, with hints of 1950 ringing through the supporters in the stands…