Who would have thought we would ever refer to a New Zealand vs. Italy game as a key match-up!
That is just a testament to how rugby has evolved over the past few years, which is brilliant for the global game.
The Italian team came off a good display against Uruguay with a brilliant 20 minutes at the start of the second half. They will be worried that Uruguay was able to dominate for so much of the game.
Italy has become a far better team in recent times and has been pushing top teams very close. The last two clashes against New Zealand and France will show how far they have actually come.
New Zealand on the other hand is definitely not the All Blacks team that they used to be. They have been blowing a little hot and cold over the past few months but they are still a formidable force and should not be underestimated.
They have a lot of pedigree in their team and although there will be some nerves going into this game, they should still prove to be superior in most aspects.
There might be a small chance of Italy causing a massive upset but that isn’t likely.
I do anticipate it being close at times throughout the game but there will likely be a tipping point where the dam wall just bursts and New Zealand rack up a couple of wins to take them one step closer to the quarter-finals.