Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon has warned his team-mates they must raise their game to avoid another World Cup “failure”.
The Italians’ shock loss to Costa Rica in their last outing has left them needing a result from their final Group D game against Uruguay on Tuesday to reach the last 16.
A draw in Natal would still suffice for Cesare Prandelli’s men but Uruguay, who can progress with a victory, appear to have the greater momentum after last Thursday’s win over England.
Veteran goalkeeper Buffon told reporters: “Now we have to send some positive signals and the only way to do that is to raise our game against Uruguay.
“We need to show some strength and pride and come up with a win. We need cool heads but also to be highly motivated.
“If we end up going out in the first round, it will be a failure.”
Italy suffered such a fate in South Africa four years ago, when their defence of the title they won in 2006 ended after defeat to Slovakia in their last group game.
Prandelli is facing calls to make changes after the Costa Rica disappointment, which came after an uplifting opening win over England.
Most notably, it is suggested Borussia Dortmund-bound forward Ciro Immobile - top scorer in Serie A with Torino last season - should come in to partner Mario Balotelli up front.
Buffon, 36, fit again after missing the England game with an ankle injury, said: “Of course the coach will make the call but we’re open to everything.
“But you also have to remember Mario and Immobile have never played together. That could be risky, or it could be to our benefit.”
Uruguay are not unfamiliar opponents for Italy, with Buffon having saved three penalties in a shoot-out victory over them in last year’s Confederations Cup.
The South Americans were also beaten by surprise package Costa Rica but now look a deadlier proposition with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez fit again and leading their attack.
Suarez kept Uruguay’s hopes alive with two goals against England and forms a formidable attack pairing with Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani, a player familiar to Italy after six years with Palermo and Napoli.
Despite that, the pressure remains on La Celeste and their coach Oscar Taberez to deliver.
Tabarez said: “I have a group who are used to resisting pressure and who react to it in a good way. The pressure was worse against England.
“They’ve (Italy) been world champions four times and we have a lot of respect for them. It will be a tough challenge for us but I believe we’ll have our chances.”