After a 1-0 loss to Egypt, Italy now needs a decent result against Brazil to avoid elimination from the Confederations Cup _ exactly the situation the World Cup holders wanted to avoid.
“We're the world champions, and we're also the world champions at making our own lives difficult,” Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said after Thursday's match.
Brazil leads Group B with six points, while Italy and Egypt each have three points and the United States has zero. The simplest way for Italy to advance is to obtain a better result than Egypt in the final round of group matches, or beat Brazil by two goals.
Italy faces Brazil on Sunday and Egypt plays the United States. If both games end in a draw, Brazil and Italy would advance, with the Italians ahead of Egypt on goal differential. If Italy loses, it has to hope that Egypt loses also, by at least the same goal differential.
Italy's previous loss was to Brazil, 2-0, in a friendly in London in February.
“You don't make any calculations when you play Brazil,” Buffon said.
“You just try to win, play a good game and compete against one of the teams most likely to win this tournament and next year's World Cup. We just want to play and compete and be sure we're up to the challenge.”
Thus far, Italy hasn't looked up to the task. The Azzurri struggled for an hour against the United States before eventually winning 3-1 with a man advantage, then fell behind in the first half against Egypt and never recovered.
“Clearly if you base it on the numbers, something has gone wrong in our approach to the games,” Buffon said.
“Either that or we're too nervous. Then when they hit us hard we start digging down to turn things around. But we weren't able to tonight. But that's the beauty of football. Everything serves as a lesson," Buffon added.