Suarez to miss Nice friendly

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

ROME: Italy meet Uruguay in a friendly match in Nice, France, that pa­rades a total of six World Cup tri­umphs to­mor­row.

The Az­zurri, who in 2006 won their fourth world tro­phy, then play a 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier at home to Liecht­en­stein Sun­day.

Uruguay lost 3-1 against Ire­land in a friendly last Sun­day, hav­ing star striker Edin­son Ca­vani bruised and sub­sti­tuted as coach Os­car Tabarez re­mains with­out the in­jured Luis Suarez.

Uruguay have their next qual­i­fier for the Rus­sia-hosted fi­nals against Ar­gentina on Au­gust 31.

Tabarez’s Ital­ian coun­ter­part Gian Piero Ven­tura could miss play­maker Marco Ver­ratti after a train­ing in­jury Sun­day and was awaiting the ar­rival of cap­tain­ing goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon, de­fend­ers An­drea Barza­gli, Leonardo Bonucci and Gior­gio Chiellini, plus mid­fielder Clau­dio Marchi­sio from the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal that Ju­ven­tus lost 4-1 to Real Madrid Satur­day.

Ven­tura said he ex­pects the five Ital­ian cham­pi­ons to have got over the dis­ap­point­ment, hav­ing qual­i­fied for and lost two Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals in the past three sea­sons.

“A week ago, I asked the Ju­ven­tus play­ers if I could count on them and they en­thu­si­as­ti­cally said yes,” Ven­tura said.

“Know­ing their pro­fes­sion­al­ism, I be­lieve that they will ar­rive here with a de­sire to do well.”

The veteran coach added that Uruguay will prove a tough test for the Az­zurri work­ing on their tac­tics in the French sea­side city.

“We’re proud to have climbed some places [to 12th] in the [FIFA world] rank­ings,” he said, “and a win against Uruguay (placed 16th) would be an­other step for­ward to put us among the top sides.”

The route to Rus­sia 2018 sees Italy trail Group G lead­ers Spain on goal dif­fer­ence, with five of the 10 match­days played in a cam­paign that only guar­an­tees qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the group win­ner.

Uruguay, who won their two World Cup tro­phies in 1930 and 1950, are in a league round-robin with nine other squads from South Amer­ica’s CONMEBOL. They fill the third of four di­rectly qual­i­fy­ing berths with four match­days left.

Mid­fielder Ma­tias Ve­cino may have to tackle Ital­ian Fiorentina team-mates Da­vide As­tori and Fed­erico Bernarde­schi while Diego Lax­alt also plays in the Ital­ian Serie A with Genoa. – dpa

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