The USA were totally outplayed by the Czech Republic in their opening match and went down 3-0.

It leaves their tournament hopes hanging by a thread as they face an Italian outfit who showed an unusual amount of flair to overcome a physical Ghanaian side in the other group match.

The Americans' goal difference means a loss would almost certainly end the tournament for the 2002 quarter finalists and that is what makes them such a dangerous opponent according to Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

"We won't be underestimating the United States because they have to win against us or they're out," said the Azzurri’s first goal scorer of the World Cup.

"They were well beaten by the Czechs in their first match, but that will only make them more determined to get the three points."

The safe, and expensive, hands of
Gianluigi Buffon

Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who has promised to bring an attacking style to the normally defensively minded side, admitted he was surprised by the ease with which the Czech Republic dispatched of the Americans.  

"I was expecting a closer match because the USA have made giant strides in the last five years," the former Juventus coach said.

"They reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago and came here full of confidence."

The 58 year old received good news on the medical front this week with defender Gianluca Zambrotta and midfielder Gennaro Gattuso both making good progress on their injuries, and the pair are likely to be able to play some part against the Americans.

USA coach Bruce Arena started his team’s recovery from their footballing lesson from the Czech Republic by public criticising key players Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley.

Arena said Donovan "showed no aggressiveness" and that "we got nothing" from Beasley.
  
But Reading player Bobby Convey suggested that is the sort of motivation the two midfielders needed before the next big game.

"Landon and Beasley are big enough people. They'll take it and come out fired up," Convey said.
  

Reading the riot act: Arena to
Donovan

"People are used to it. That's what Bruce does. He criticises players and tries to make them better."

Rather than panic, Convey said the side has reacted positively to the defeat.

"There is some urgency," he said. "Guys who weren't on the field want to be on it. Guys who were want to prove they should stay on it.
  
"Everyone knows we have to do better. Everyone was excited in training. The coach said he is going to make changes. That gives everyone an opportunity, and when you get an opportunity you have to take advantage of it."

The USA have played the Italians eight times in World Cups and are yet to win a match, having lost six times and drawn twice.

The have an opportunity to change that and for the sake of their tournament they must take it.