Costa Rica and Italy look to build something big from their impressive opening match victories over Uruguay and England when they face off against each other on Friday at the Arena Pernambuco starting at 1:00 pm local time (2:00 am in Australia)
Costa Rica took advantage of a Uruguayan squad playing without superstar Luiz Suarez winning 3-1 last Saturday while Italy beat the now-eliminated England team, 2-1 in their own opener.
Los Ticos’ shocking victory over Uruguay puts them in contention in Group D and on the threshold of topping it if they manage another upset over the Italians.
It was in Italy in 1990 that Costa Rica made their first World Cup appearance and they made the most out of it by reaching the Round of 16. They failed to qualify in the next WC editions but returned in 2002 (South Korea/Japan) and 2006 (Germany), both times getting the boot in the group stage.
Meanwhile, the Azzuri’s pinpoint passing took care of business against England. They had a 93 per cent pass completion in that game and rated the highest ever since the 1996 World Cup, according to Independent.co.uk.
Rich in World Cup tradition, this is their 18th appearance in the biggest football tournament in the world.
They look to continue their good start with a renewed focus, particularly star Mario Balotelli.
"I hope this is Italy's World Cup, not Mario's," Balotelli declared to ESPNFC. "I'm not really interested in being compared with the big stars. In the end it's the squad that wins. I don't want to be a big star. I want to win the World Cup.
Both teams know how to attack and score; Costa Rica opened the tournament with three goals while Italy has not been held scoreless in a WC event since 1996.
Italy is a big favourite in the betting lines valued at 1.14 to win the match while the underdogs Costa Rica is at 5.2. In the three-way betting, Italy is at 1.53, Costa Rica is at 7.00 and a Draw is at 4.2.