2014 World Cup Italy vs Costa Rica

2014 World Cup – Group D
Italy vs Costa Rica

Itaipava Arena Pernambuco – Recife, Brazil
Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN, Univision
Money Line: Costa Rica +565 / Italy -195 / Draw +325
Point Line: Italy -1 -105 / Costa Rica +1 -115
Total: over 2.5 -121 / under 2.5 -101
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker

Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon could miss his second straight game with an ankle injury as Italy takes on Costa Rica in a key Group D match.
Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon could miss his second straight game with an ankle injury as Italy takes on Costa Rica in a key Group D match.

Both Italy and Costa Rica won their opening matches in Group D of the World Cup. Italy beat England 2-1 in Manaus, while Costa Rica pulled off arguably the upset of the tournament so far, downing Uruguay 3-1 in Fortaleza. Both games were Saturday. Now Italy and Costa Rica meet for control of the group Friday in Recife. With Uruguay beating England 2-1 yesterday, the winner of this game will not officially clinch a berth in the knockout round, but they will be in very good shape. A Costa Rica win or a draw will eliminate England who has gone to the knockout stage in the last 10 World Cups.

This is only the second ever meeting between Italy and Costa Rica. Italy beat Costa Rica 1-0 in a tune-up for the 1994 World Cup.

Uruguay played their opening match against Costa Rica without striker Luis Suarez who had minor knee surgery last month. Uruguay scored first 24 minutes in on a goal from Edinson Cavani. They would hold that 1-0 lead until halftime. At the 54th minute, Joel Campbell scored the equalizer for Costa Rica. Oscar Duarte made it 2-1 Costa Rica three minutes later. At the 84th minute, Costa Rica made it 3-1 on a goal from Marco Urena.

Costa Rica had 12 shots with 4 on goal. Uruguay had 9 and 5. Fouls were 20-18 for Uruguay. Uruguay had possession for 54% of the time. Costa Rica had 6 corners to five for Uruguay. Uruguay was called for offsides 6 times to 2 for Costa Rica.

In the England-Italy match, Claudio Marchisio gave Italy a 1-0 lead 35 minutes lead. Daniel Sturridge equalized for England two minutes later. Mario Balotelli scored at the 50th minute to give Italy a 2-1 lead. They would hold on for the narrow victory. The game was played in Manaus which close to the Amazon River. Conditions were very hot and humid, even more so than Brazil normally is in June. Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon missed the match with an ankle injury. His replacement Salvatore Sirigu was sensational making 7 saves. Buffon is questionable against Costa Rica. Defender Mattia Di Scuglio missed the England game but could return to the line-up against Costa Rica.

England had 18 shots including 8 on goal. Italy had 12 and 5. Italy had 12 fouls to 8 for England. Italy had possession for 52% of the time. England had 9 corners to 2 for Italy. Italy had 7 offsides and England had none. Italy converted a staggering 93% of their passes, a World Cup record since the stat started being kept in 1966.

Costa Rica is coached by Jorge Luis Pinto. Costa Rica will use a 5-4-1 formation. Forward Joel Campbell is a talented striker. Forwards Bryan Ruiz and Alvoro Saboro can also score at any time. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas has 54 caps for the National team. Costa Rica is relatively healthy right now.

Italy is coached by Cesare Prandelli. Italy will use a 4-1-4-1 formation. Striker Mario Balotelli is just as likely to get a card for his fiery temper as he is to score a spectacular goal. He scored the match winner against England early in the second half.  Midfielder Andrea Pirlo completed 103 of 108 passes in the win against England. Midfielder Daniele de Rossi was also deadly accurate with his passes.

Costa Rica has scored a goal in their last six World Cup games against UEFA teams. Costa Rica also seeks to become the only CONCACAF member to win two straight World Cup games, other than the United States or Mexico. Italy has scored in 15 straight World Cup games. I think Italy wins but it will be closer than many think. The Azzuri win 2-1.

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