Uruguay vs. Italy: Breaking Down Confederations Cup Third-Place Playoff

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIJune 28, 2013

Uruguay vs. Italy: Breaking Down Confederations Cup Third-Place Playoff

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    Uruguay and Italy meet in the third-place playoff for the Confederations Cup early on Sunday.

    We'll break down some key topics to look at heading into this intriguing matchup.

    The two defeated semifinalists are both unfortunate to be in this position. Italy took Spain to penalties and were arguably the better team in their matchup, while Uruguay frustrated Brazil throughout their game before conceding a late winner.

    Both sides have plenty of history, and have met as recently as 2011 in an international friendly. Uruguay won that encounter 1-0.

    Here's a look at the third-place playoff for the Confederations Cup.

South America vs. Europe

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    This third-place playoff will be the third matchup between a South American team and a European team in the tournament so far.

    Spain dominated Uruguay despite the 2-1 scoreline, while Brazil outlasted Italy 4-2 in their respective group encounters.

    Now these two sides get a chance to put their continent back on top for the tournament.

    These results don't matter just for the present, though. A number of teams from these continents are set to be the favourites for the 2014 World Cup.

    Positive results for the European sides in the remaining games will show that their teams can successfully handle the change in environment. South American sides can receive a similar boost in confidence knowing the weather they are used to may give them an advantage.

    While it's not all about the weather—the quality of players and so on certainly makes a difference—it is a definite factor heading into the World Cup for some teams.

Ring in the Changes

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    Both sides will look to make some changes in this game, with third place not holding much cause for glory.

    Italy has trotted out a first-team lineup in every game so far, only making changes due to injuries. Expect a few more substitutes to get a starting role.

    Uruguay got to play Tahiti, and used that time to rest their top players. They may not make wholesale changes as they did in that game, but there will be changes.

Oscar Tabarez vs. Cesare Prandelli

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    These two managers have helped reinvent their respective sides during their time in charge. They've used the players at their disposal, their managerial skills and most importantly their tactical nous.

    Tabarez has been in charge of Uruguay since 2006, and has overseen their return to importance on the South American and international stage.

    Prandelli's time in charge of Italy has been short, but the change has been monumental. The Azzurri have displayed a more expansive game under the former Fiorentina coach, and have bounced back from poor performances in the 2010 World Cup.

    A great tactical battle can be expected with these two managers in charge, regardless of who they put on the pitch.

Italy Will Be Favourites

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    Italy will be considered the favourites heading into this game. The only negative for them will be how they recover after going through extra time and penalties against Spain.

    Both teams have played the finalists, and the Italians performed better against both sides.

    Even with changes, the strength of the Italian side will win through. Key players like Andrea Pirlo may still get some minutes, which will enhance Italy's chances.

Projected Lineups and Prediction

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    As we mentioned before, changes are likely from both of these sides, whether through injury or rest. Virtually all the players on each team have seen some game time during the tournament.

    Expect to see some of the lesser-used players get a starting role.

    Here are the projected lineups for these two sides:

    Uruguay Projected Lineup (4-3-3): Fernando Muslera; Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin, Diego Lugano, Alvaro Pereira; Diego Perez, Walter Gargano, Cristian Rodriguez; Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani

    Italy Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gianluigi Buffon; Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Davide Astori, Mattia De Sciglio; Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi; Stephan El Shaarawy, Alessandro Diamanti, Sebastian Giovinco, Alberto Gilardino

    Prediction: Uruguay 1-2 Italy

    It will be a tightly contested affair, and a tactical battle between the two sides. Pirlo should be able to control the game for Italy, and pacy players like Giovinco and El Shaarawy on the wings will trouble Uruguay.

    It may take a change or two, but Italy will come out on top.