With the CONMEBOL nation surprising everyone by winning both their opening fixtures against these two sides to seal their last-16 berth, Italy and Uruguay come into the clash in Natal knowing there is no room for error.
Uruguay were less than impressive in going down 3-1 to Costa Rica in their curtain raiser, before the return of Luis Suarez inspired them to a battling 2-1 win over England last time out.
Italy, meanwhile, saw off Roy Hodgson’s men 2-1 in Manaus, but were stunned by Bryan Ruiz’s header in their second game as a 1-0 defeat left their hopes of progression in the balance.
As a result, both teams are locked on three points coming into their final pool fixture, although the Italians know a draw will be enough for them to progress due to their superior goal difference.
A win for either side could see them top the group, in the event of Costa Rica losing to England and a large enough swing in goal difference.
Should they finish second, it seems likely that a last-16 clash with Colombia awaits, as the South Americans currently sit pretty at the top of Group C with a maximum return of six points so far.
Suarez was able to display his clinical finishing power against England, despite not being 100 per cent fit having undergone minor knee surgery just last month, and Uruguay should benefit from the striker having enjoyed another four days’ worth of treatment and training.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, meanwhile, will hope his own talismanic frontman, Mario Balotelli, shrugs off his disappointing performance in the defeat to Costa Rica and shows more of the predatory instinct that saw him net the winning goal against England.
Prandelli’s Uruguayan counterpart Oscar Tabarez was in bullish mood ahead of the game, and is backing his players to cope with the burden of having to win.
“This squad has already shown it can deal with pressure,” he said. “We know that it will be difficult considering we only have one result at our disposal, but we consider it to be an entirely achievable result.”
Prandelli, on the other hand, is all too aware his team need to improve on their showing against Costa Rica.
“I’m sure we are going to step up a notch,” he said. “We have to, otherwise we are out.”
Daniele De Rossi looks set to miss out for the Italians with a calf problem, with Uruguay defender Diego Godin also struggling with a knee complaint.
Tabarez will welcome Maxi Pereira back into his squad after the Benfica full-back’s one-match suspension.