Natal: Four-time champions Italy admitted they are struggling with the weather conditions ahead of their clash with Uruguay in Natal today where they will try to avoid being eliminated in the first round at successive World Cups.
Italy's players during a training session at the Abc Frasqueiro Stadium in Natal. Pic/AFP
A win for the South Americans would send Cesare Prandelli's side crashing out at the first hurdle, four years after bowing out at the group stage as then world champions in South Africa.
The Azzurri require just a draw to go through, but after a lifeless display in a 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica, captain Gianluigi Buffon hinted that the hot and humid conditions have taken their toll.
"Once we've finished training today we'll see what kind of condition we are in," said Buffon. "I think a lot of European teams are struggling compared to the Latin Americans. "But that isn't an excuse. The climate is the same for all of our opponents."
If there is belief that Latin Americans sides are coping better than teams from Europe in such a testing climate, Group D is arguably a good indicator.
Costa Rica host England on Tuesday looking for their third consecutive group win having fought back from a goal down to stun Uruguay 3-1, before outplaying a visibly jaded Italy in Recife on Friday.
Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio said after the defeat: "In the second half we suffered, the heat made it difficult to remain lucid."