When Italy's World Cup fate was decided many weeks and months ago, the final group stage fixture against Brazil seemed like a daunting one. With many pundits assuming Italy would lose their opener against Australia and probably eek out a win against Jamaica, their third and final Group C match seemed like a life and death affair; manufacture an upset and get through or lose gracefully and build for the future.
Good luck for Italy they actually play these matches rather than simply following through on expert assumptions. After storming from behind to erase Sam Kerr's goal and topple the Matildas, Cristiana Girelli (and later Aurora Galli) made quick work of Jamaica over the weekend, vaulting the Azzurre into a rather unexpected but deserved place in the knockout rounds.
With nothing to play for (save perhaps seeding), Italy head coach Milena Bertolini has a bit of a quandary on her hands: Does she rest and rotate or keep her foot on the gas? Among her starters thus far, certainly Girelli, Barbara Bonansea, Sara Gama and Manuel Giugliano are in fine form, but she's gotten little production from forward Daniela Sabatino while Valentina Bergamaschi and Alia Guagni have had their ups and downs, so perhaps some giving the likes of Valentina Giacinti, Martina Rosucci or even Roma's Annamaria Serturini some run would be beneficial.
Italy vs. Brazil
Kickoff: 21:00 CET/3:00 EDT
Venue: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Streaming: Fubo TV