World Cup 2014

Italy fight for World Cup survival against Uruguay

Italy fight for World Cup survival against Uruguay
Strikers Ciro Immobile and Mario Balotelli may start the match against Uruguay together. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Italy face Uruguay in a World Cup fight for survival on Tuesday between the former champions as England hope to draw a line under a disastrous campaign by giving a sign of hope for the future.

There will also be a three-way battle for a round of 16 place between Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece.

Italy play Uruguay in Natal at 16.00 GMT with Italy needing a point and their opponents, because of their inferior goal difference, aiming for a win to go through from Group D. At the same time, group leaders Costa Rica will be looking for a third upset scalp when they take on England in Belo Horizonte.

In Group C, Japan play leaders Colombia in Cuiaba at 2200 GMT knowing that even a win does not guarantee a place in the knockout stage. They will be anxiously waiting for news of the Greece-Ivory Coast game at the same time in Fortaleza.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has hinted at using the untried strike partnership of Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile as Italy seek the point to avoid falling out at the group stage for the second straight World Cup finals.

Balotelli is already certain to start. But the coach said that 24-year-old Immobile could help counter Uruguay's Luiz Suarez and Edinson Cavani, who Prandelli said was "one of the strongest strike partnerships at the World Cup."

Costa Rica are already qualified having beaten Italy and Uruguay. One point against demoralised England will be enough.

Roy Hodgson has ordered nine changes to the team beaten by two Suarez goals for their last match in Brazil.

He remains defiant though. "We're very conscious of the fact that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but they are still here supporting us," said Hodgson.

"It's a top-class international on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup, so anything else than taking the game very seriously and trying to win the game in its own right would be out of the question," he added.

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