Suarez to miss Nice friendly
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