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Italy Falls to Uruguay 1-0, Eliminated from the World Cup

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In a match destined to be remembered for Luis Suarez sinking his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder, Italy, thanks to some questionable substitutions and tactics, crashed out of the World Cup in the group stages for the second straight time.

Julian Finney

The story of this match will undoubtedly be Luis Suarez sinking his teeth into the presumably sumptuous shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini, but really, that had little to do with the outcome of the match. Italy spent much of the match doing their best La Roja impression, laterally passing Uruguay to death, keeping possession and wasting time at all costs, desperately trying to string out a draw.

The problem was, once Claudio Marchisio was excused from the match in the 60th minute, Cesare Prandelli's tactics and substitutions did little to advance the Italian cause. Following his precautionary substitution of Mario Balotelli, Prandelli opted to replace him with Marco Parolo, a defensive midfielder, while he swapped Ciro Immobile for Antonio Cassano shortly after Marchisio's ejection.

While Cassano remains one of Italy's most dangerous players, his play making skills were essentially useless in match without any actual forwards for him to interchange with, leading to the horrible spectacle of Cassano and Thiago Motta working give and goes in the attacking third.

Speaking of Motta, why wasn't he starting to begin with? Surely if there is anyone who has a modicum of Daniele De Rossi's skillset in him, it's Motta and not Marco Verratti. It's almost as if Prandelli had it backwards, using Motta over Verratti versus Costa Rica, when the latter's passing and playmaking could've helped break the stalemate, then leaving Motta on the bench for much of this one.

There were some questionable selections to begin with, some strange substitutions and questionable tactics, and yes, Italy was on the short end of some bad calls, but none of that led to Italy's limp performance in Brazil.

Let's also take a moment to pause and be thankful that Francesco Totti was spared the ignominy just suffered by Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon. I'm not even sure that Totti could have rescued this bunch, falling to Uruguay amidst a spate of questionable calls, spurious substitutions and attempted cannibalism isn't befitting of Pirlo or Buffon.

Much was made of Prandelli's redesign of Italian football, gone were the days of locking down opponents and relying on the counter attack, instead they were replaced by a freewheeling, more aesthetically pleasing brand of attacking football.

The results of this makeover? Three points out of nine and 11 measly shots per match, only 27% of which were on target (on average), placing Italy among such prestigious company as Algeria, Ecuador and Cameroon.

This World Cup was ugly, and the Uruguay defeat will be the lasting image, but Italy was exposed for what they are; a team in transition and one overly dependent on Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Mario Balotelli.

So what does the future hold for the Azzurri? Will Prandelli get the chop or will he resign? Who takes the on-field reins from Pirlo and Buffon?

Update:Prandelli Resigns From Italy Post

These are gigantic questions that we'll leave for another time, but the solutions may actually rest in Roma, where Mattia Destro, Alessandro Florenzi and even Alessio Romagnoli might rise to prominence in the national set up over the next decade, while Daniele De Rossi may very well don the captains armband in Russia four years from now, you know, provided this Italy doesn't rear its ugly head.

So that's it for our dedicated Azzurri coverage at the World Cup, so we'll leave you with another look at Shouldergate.