June 30, 2013
Uruguay v Italy: Preview
Both Uruguay and Italy head into tomorrow night's Confederations Cup third-place play-off match wondering what might have been.
The South Americans were stung by Paulinho's late header as hosts Brazil booked their place in the final while Spain trumped Italy in a dramatic penalty shoot-out which saw 12 spot-kicks hit the back of the net before Leonardo Bonucci's fateful miss.
The Juventus defender then watched on helplessly as Jesus Navas converted penalty number 14, and the 26-year-old has vowed to perfect his technique before next summer's World Cup finals.
"I plan to spend the next year practising penalties because I don't want to run the risk of the same thing happening at the World Cup,'' he told La Repubblica Sport.
"I was confident standing in front of the ball but when I realised (goalkeeper Iker) Casillas knew where I was going I lost my cool. I tried to change my shot to lift the ball a bit more and I put too much on it.
"You all saw what happened.''
Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli tried to take the positives from his side's disappointing exit from the competition, saying: "It's been a great test.
"I would also say it's been a great experience because we've come up against some of the best sides in the world.
"We know now what kind of environment and climate to expect in 12 months' time. It's not like Europe over here, you can fly for three hours between cities and still be in the same country.
"Italy always like to be the surprise package and even if we start off on a lower rung to everybody else we can still assert ourselves.''
Bonucci's Juve team-mates Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo have been ruled out of contention in Salvador due to injury, while striker Alberto Gilardino picked up a knock against Spain, perhaps leaving the door open for AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy.
Uruguay are likely to stick with the three-pronged strikeforce of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan although it is Abel Hernandez who has the best chance of beating Spain's Fernando Torres to the Golden Boot.
The Palermo striker may be just one goal shy of the Chelsea man's five-goal tally but Italy's defence is in good shape and became the first to keep a clean sheet against Spain in 16 games.