Though neither Uruguay and Italy were strong favourites to triumph at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, both came very close to reaching the title decider. The South American champions were only edged out by a late goal from the host nation, while the UEFA EURO 2012 runners-up took world and European champs Spain to a penalty shoot-out – though the pair must now end their Festival of Champions campaign with the match for third place.
Uruguay-Italy, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Sunday 30 June, 13.00 (local time)
Following their recent struggles in 2014 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, La Celeste arrived in Brazil under something of a cloud and with their status as a regional heavyweight under threat. Oscar Tabarez’s troops have taken full advantage of Brazil 2013, however, to rediscover some of their lost lustre, while a win over Italy would enable them to make the short trip home with their heads held even higher. What is more, a third-place finish would improve on the fourth spot achieved on their only previous FIFA Confederations Cup campaign at Saudi Arabia 1997.
In the words of coach Cesare Prandelli, La Nazionale squad he has brought to Brazil 2013 is still very much a work in progress. And despite their exit at the hands of La Roja, the fact they reached the semi-finals and the epic nature of their display all point to this being a highly successful showing. On what is also their second FIFA Confederations Cup appearance, the Squadra Azzurra have already made a significant improvement on their failure to emerge from the group phase at South Africa 2009.
7 – Against Uruguay, Prandelli is likely to continuing relying on his large contingent from Italian champions Juventus. Of his semi-final starting XI, only the quartet of Christian Maggio, Daniele De Rossi, Alberto Gilardino and Antonio Candreva do not currently play their club football for Juve.
“We’ve got back to being competitive against the big teams. This squad is starting to gain a lot of experience. We now need to put behind us the disappointment of our [semi-final] elimination in order to be in the best possible shape for the match for third place,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.
“The match for third place is not looking easy at all. We’ve all given an awful lot of ourselves over the course of this competition. Even so we’ll be taking the game against Uruguay very seriously. We’re aiming to finish this competition on a high,” Italy wide-man Emanuele Giaccherini.