Three lessons from Italy 0-1 Uruguay

The Azzuri needed only to avoid defeat to make the next round, but Diego Godin's late goal sent the South Americans through in a game full of talking points. Three takeaways here!
By Teng Kiat | Deputy Editor, Goal Singapore

The first half of this game was abysmal. Italy, requiring only a point to go through, treated the Uruguay half like a minefield. Strangely enough, the latter did not seem too keen on bombarding forward either, given that they needed victory. The potential was there for it to be unexpectedly the worst game of this World Cup, but how things changed after the break.

A straight red, a biting incident and a late winner for Uruguay all arrived in the second half as the game exploded into life, starting with that dismissal. Was it a reckless challenge from Claudio Marchisio? The Azzuri will feel aggrieved, for the dynamics of the match changed after that.

Italy will now join England in packing their bags, while La Celeste progress along with Costa Rica. Who would have seen that coming? What a World Cup.

Hungrier Uruguay
Uruguay knew they needed a victory and while they were subdued in the first half, in part by Italy's gameplan of controlling the ball and keeping possession, they stepped up their game after the break.

No doubt aided by Marchisio's dismissal, the South Americans took the match by the scruff of the neck and few would disagree they deserved the win. More shots and shots on target, more crosses and interceptions, as well as more aerial duels won reflect the hunger of a side desperate to get the victory.

Gianluigi Buffon had already pulled off three splendid stops but he could do nothing when Diego Godin got to a corner and the ball went in off his back/shoulder.

Impotent Italians
Just one shot on target sums it up really for the Italians. Granted, they only needed a draw but one would imagine that if they were a little more attacking-minded and took the game to Uruguay, they could have won this.

But perhaps Cesare Prandelli knew that he did not have the talent in attack to adopt such a strategy. Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile, who both started upfront, were woeful to say the least - as they were throughout the entire tournament whenever they have played. Immobile, last season's Serie A top scorer, was a disappointment in particular, with many tipping him to shine. An absymal return of one shot over 88 minutes and a terribly low percentage of duels won reflect his tournament.Balotelli fared no better. Apart from his goal against England, he was largely anonymous in the amount of time he spent on the pitch, despite being the first-choice striker. It was the perfect stage for the Milan man to deliver a riposte to his critics, but he failed to take the chance.

In the end, Italy really only have themselves to blame for being eliminated. While they did well enough against England, they were abject against Costa Rica and looked out of ideas. That can be attributed to both Prandelli's lack of tactical nous in this tournament, as well as the other attackers who failed to show up.

It be hard to have seen them advancing much further even if they had gotten the draw, but it's now arrivederci, Italia.

What is Suarez thinking?
If you bite an opponent once during a game, it could be chalked down to rashness or a rush of blood to the head. Twice, and questions will have to be seriously asked. But how about three times? How do you deal with such a repeat offender then?

That is the question the football world has to confront after Luis Suarez, Uruguay's talisman and one of the best players on the planet, appeared to chomp on Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder.

The Liverpool striker seemed to have attacked the Italy defender in the 79th minute as both went to challenge for a cross, with the latter showing the referee what looked like teeth marks. No action was taken, however, with Uruguay going on to score the winner two minutes later.

Video replays of the incident and pictures making the rounds on the Internet seemingly show that Suarez was indeed guilty. Just what is the 27-year-old thinking? Such a brilliant footballer, but someone whose actions cause controversy and headlines all the time.

Allegations of diving and going down too easily, that racism incident with Patrice Evra and now the latest biting incidents, which has already occurred during his time at Ajax and Liverpool.

Fifa has to look at the incident again and mete out a heavy punishment if he is found guilty. It is quite simply baffling to bite an opponent during a game. Maybe Suarez could do with a therapist.