Confederations Cup 2013: What's Next for Italy and Uruguay After Exciting Finish
After a thrilling third-place match at the Confederations Cup that saw Italy defeat Uruguay (3) 2 - 2 (2) with penalty kicks. Italy will have something to build on after gutting out a victory against a talented and pesky Uruguayan team.
In contrast, finding the positives will be difficult for the losers, as this is a match they should have won.
The Italians won third place behind clutch goalkeeping from 35-year-old veteran Gianluigi Buffon. He was huge when it counted most. He stuffed three potential scores during the shootout after extra time expired.
Despite being a bit undermanned for this match and others in the tournament, the Italians know they can play with any team in the world.
Where would Italy have finished with all of their players available?
They were beaten by Spain on penalty kicks earlier in the week, so it had to feel good to get this win in the same fashion. The Spaniards are now playing for the tournament championship against Brazil on Sunday night.
There is certainly an element of "what if" involved for the Italians, but finishing strong still has its benefits. Italy can look forward to next year's FIFA World Cup as another opportunity to reign supreme in a battle of the world's best national football teams.
Uruguay has earned the right to be known as one of the top teams in the world. Taking third place would have gone a long way in validating that standing, though.
They'll be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of their opportunities during extra time. Despite dominating play after the first 90 minutes, La Celeste could not beat Buffon even with his support in front of him seemingly exhausted.
Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera may take some of the flak for the loss, but his teammates had opportunities they didn't take advantage of.
If Uruguay wants to look at this segment of the match from a glass-half-full perspective, they could point to their ball control and created opportunities.
Still, another fourth-place finish after placing in the exact same spot in their last Confederations Cup appearance is disappointing.
The Uruguay side struggled in recent World Cup qualifying efforts, and this loss won't do much to help their confidence. Manager Oscar Tabarez will have a sizable task rebuilding his team's confidence after this loss.
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