Italy are in Euro 2016. That much is guaranteed. What's not, though, isstatus. They're currently in second place in Group H, but that can change significantly depending on the results of this match and Croatia's tilt with last-place Malta.
Italy have a two-point lead on Norway, so anything other than a loss will see them stay atop the group. Norway desperately need a win, because anything else puts them at risk of winding up out of a guaranteed place in the Euros and into the mire of the qualification playoff. Croatia are only two points behind them, and have a steep goal differential advantage -- that means even a draw for Norway doesn't see them safe, as Croatia would hold a tiebreaker if they beat Malta and Norway only get a draw against Italy.
Of course, Italy aren't going to just roll over and give Norway that win. They're on home soil, in one of their loudest and most supportive stadiums in Rome's Stadio Olimpico. Norway couldn't manage to beat Italy when they played at home -- playing in hostile territory isn't going to make the battle any easier.
Key player -- Marco Verratti (Italy)
Verratti needs a chance to show he can perform standing on his own accord inmidfield, and with Andrea Pirlo out of this match with an injury, it's his time to shine. Verratti has too often not played at his best for the national team, largely because his and Pirlo's skillsets are so similar that they often step on each other in terms of what they're doing on the pitch. Now he's got a chance to go it alone against a good opposition, and anyone even remotely interested in the Azzurri need to keep a close eye on how he does with the weight of the team on his shoulders.
Key matchup -- Stephan El Shaarawy (Italy) vs. Omar Elabdellaoui (Norway)
El Shaarawy has been a much-needed spark in Italy's side since he returned to the national team fold, and he's helped make the attack look much more fluid and threatening than it has in too long. The man tasked with trying to disrupt that fluidity is Elabdellaoui, who is a solid right back enjoying a good season at Olympiacos. Given the importance of El Shaarawy to the Italians' attack, seeing how this battle turns out should be fun.
Match Date/Time: Tues., 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
TV: FOX Sports 1 (US - English), FOX Deportes (US - Spanish), RAI Uno (Italy), TVNorge (Norway), ITV 4, Sky Sports 4/HD (U.K.)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go, FOX Sports Go (US), Sky Go (U.K.)
* * *
SB Nation presents: A simple and realistic plan to destroy FIFA forever