Italy and Uruguay will go head-to-head for the right to play in the round of 16 on Tuesday, as Group D of the 2014 World Cup will conclude with a match sure to be filled with drama.
A draw would see the 2006 champions through to the next round, but with La Celeste boasting one of the world's best attacking duos in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, chances are Italy will have to do more than just defend their current position.
Uruguay will have the support of the South American fans, but ultimately it will be up to the 22 men on the pitch to determine who gets to stay and compete for the 2014 World Cup and who has to go home.
Date: Tuesday, June 24
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
Via Azzurri, the Italians have three injury concerns going into this match, with Gianluigi Buffon, Claudio Marchisio and Daniele De Rossi missing out on practice time in the days leading up to this tie:
The Azzurri trained in Natal tonight. 4000 fans were present. De Rossi (calf injury), Buffon (rest), & Marchisio (rest) sat out.— Azzurri (@ItalianNT) June 21, 2014
Marchisio and Buffon are expected to return to full health in time, but De Rossi is a major question mark with a calf injury he suffered in the match against Costa Rica.
A likely replacement would be Marco Verratti, who impressed during preparations for the tournament and put together a strong performance during the Azzurri's first match, against England.
Via Tje Associated Press' Jim Vertuno (for Bigstory), Suarez told reporters his knee "feels perfect" and that there are no questions surrounding his availability for this match: "It feels good. I think (the knee) is in perfect shape...If the knee didn't feel good, I would have told the coach I couldn't play ... so I'm cool right now."
The Italians admitted to struggles with Brazil's difficult climate, as reported by FIFA.com, and via forzaitalianfootball.com, the match against Uruguay could be played in very harsh conditions, with lots of rain expected.
Given the Azzurri's proficiency in passing the ball, a wet (and therefore slow) pitch would favour the Uruguayans, who have so far relied heavily on the individual brilliance of their strikers.
The biggest factor coming into this match probably isn't the climate, but the standings. Uruguay need to defeat Italy in order to advance—all the Italians need is a draw.
The Azzurri know how to play with a lead, and against Uruguay, they'll have a virtual lead until La Celeste actually score. The focus will be on containing the central duo of Cavani and Suarez, who only need an inch of space to work their magic.
Italy dominated out wide against England during their opening match, and Uruguay have struggled marking players making deep runs from wide positions. With the 3-5-2 formation a likely candidate to be introduced on Tuesday, Uruguay's defence will also have to account for an added striker in Ciro Immobile.
Uruguay's biggest key to success will be not allowing Italy to dictate the pace. The Italians are masters at slowing down the ball and taking time off the clock, something La Celeste simply can't allow to happen.
By keeping the pace high, Uruguay can use the Brazilian climate to their advantage. Italy struggled for fitness against a younger Costa Rican side, and they couldn't shift gears inside the final 20 minutes. Uruguay will want to do the same, as it will be their best chance at tearing down the Italian defences.