England's slim hope of advancing into the next round vanished as Costa Rica held on to a 1-0 victory over Italy in their Group D match Friday at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil.
What's at Stake?
*Costa Rica, coming off a 3-1 stunner against the Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in the opener, looks to keep their Cinderella run going and take a big step towards qualifying into the knockout stages.
*Italy is the hands-down favorite to win Group D, after their 2-1 win over England, who suddenly found themselves on the brink of elimination in the tourney. A win on Friday would erase their nightmarish run in the last edition of the World Cup in Africa, where they failed to qualify into the knockout stages.
Rapid Reaction:Costa Rica continued to be a threat in set-pieces, and the 44th minute header by Bryan Ruiz just proved that. Their high-pressure defense was also effective, but missed opportunity to strike and sloppiness in passing the ball just killed the Azzuri in the match.
Injury and Suspension Report
*Costa Rica will have its key starters from the victory over Uruguay ready for another grind against a very talented Italian squd.
*Italy, on the other hand, is expected to retain the service of veteran goalkeeper Gianlugi Buffon, who missed the game against England with ankle problems. Full-back Mattia De Sciglio is cleared from a leg injury, but might need to rest more before he gets the call to play.
"Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli will have been boosted by the return to training of goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon.
The 36-year-old missed the 2-1 win over England with an ankle problem, but could return against the Costa Ricans. Full-back Mattia De Sciglio is also thought to be nearing a return to action, but the match may come too soon for the AC Milan defender," via John Ley of the Telegraph.
Rapid Reaction: Veteran goal keeper Gianlugi Buffon returned to captain the Azzuri but he seemed not 100 percent healthy to be a dominant force between the poles.
Italy (Possible, 4-5-1): Buffon; Chiellini, Barzagli, Paletta, Darmian; De Rossi, Verratti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Candreva; Balotelli.
Tests: Buffon (ankle), De Sciglio (leg).
Costa Rica (Possible, 4-4-1-1): Navas; Gonzalez, Umana, Duarte, Gamboa; Bolanos, Diaz, Tejeda, Borges; Ruiz; Campbell.
"As for Costa Rica, they are likely to pick the same side that started against Uruguay, with Arsenal's Joel Campbell their lone centre-forward again," according to Ley.
Ley predicted a close match between Italy and Costa Rica, but the Azzuri will have the extra talent to grind out a 1-0 win. BBC's football analyst Mark Lawrenson also believed Italy will win the match, despite some hiccups in the match.
"There were moments in their game against England where Italy looked uncomfortable, but they got the job done, and they will do that again here," Lawrenson stated.
Rapid Reaction: Neither Mark Lawrenson of BBC or John Ley of the Telegraph nailed the exact outcome of the match, as Costa Rica proved their doubters wrong again after shocking Uruguay 3-1 in the opener.