Italy, Uruguay determined to end on high

  • Italy, Uruguay after third-place finish in Korea Republic

  • Riccardo Orsolini has sights set on adidas Golden Boot

  • Two teams faced off in Group D earlier in tournament

Italy and Uruguay are playing on 11 June, the final matchday at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017. However, it isn’t the game either of them would have been dreaming about when they boarded the plane en route to Incheon International Airport in early May.

A few hours before the final, which will be contested by Venezuela and England, Italy and Uruguay will lock horns once more, this time in the play-off for third place.

The two teams met on their first matchday in Group D in the very same stadium they will be ending their Korea Republic 2017 campaigns in. A late Rodrigo Amaral rocket of a free-kick was all that separated the sides on that day, so what can we expect when they meet again, this time with a bronze medal on the line?

“We’ve had a great tournament,” Uruguay coach Fabian Coito said after his side’s defeat by Venezuela on penalties in the semi-finals. “This has been a good experience for these young players. We had really good moments in several matches and we were going to the final until the last minute. We are very sad, but we have to keep fighting.

“It’s true, nobody wants to play the third-place match, but we have to set up, focus in a match that we didn’t expect to be in, and go for the win.”

Uruguay can take pride of their defensive record. Before their quarter-final with Portugal, they had not conceded a single goal at Korea Republic 2017.

“We are proud of our effort,” Uruguay forward Agustin Canobbio said. “We’ve reached the last matchday at the U-20 World Cup. That gives us satisfaction. Now, we have to keep pushing and play for third. We were growing up and gaining confidence during the tournament.”

History for Azzurrini Italy will view their U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic as a success because it represents their best ever finish in the competition.

“England deserved to win,” Italy head coach Alberico Evani said after the Azzurrini’s semi-final defeat. “We didn’t have much left against them. The biggest problem for us was the physical aspect, because we struggled as the game wore on. And that was exactly what they took advantage of, with their well-organised, passing game.”

Riccardo Orsolini could end up standing on two different podiums on Sunday evening, as he enters the final matchday as the tournament’s top scorer, but as Italy coach Evani points out, the fatigue from playing in a month-long competition is no easy thing.

“Our players performed well. We’ve been playing with almost the same 11 players throughout the tournament, but we gave our all despite the fatigue. Hopefully we’ll be able to round off this campaign with a place on the podium.”