Italy can burst Costa Rican bubble.
Costa Rica surprised everyone but themselves when beating Uruguay in Fortaleza and know they could qualify for the last 16 if they take just a point from their last two Group D games and results elsewhere go in their favour.
Jorge Pinto has asked his team to remain humble and says they are still underdogs to qualify but he must have been delighted at the way his players responded after going behind against Uruguay.
Arsenal striker Joel Campbell was excellent in the second half and scored his team’s first goal and, though his side were hanging on at times, that result will have given them huge confidence.
But you just can’t see Italy making the same basic errors as Uruguay, however, and they will surely have too much for the CONCACAF qualifiers. They may have been a little fortunate to beat England but the quality of Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli, Matteo Darmian and Daniele De Rossi was there for all to see in Manaus and they’ll give most teams a game in this World Cup.
The key to success will be 35-year-old Pirlo’s ability to cope with the heat and humidity over several matches. He paced himself against England and lasted the distance, though it was noticeable that he was letting others do his running for him in the second half.
Ballotelli is still working his way back to full fitness but Cesare Pirandelli has a willing replacement in last season’s Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile, whose pace could trouble the Costa Rica defence.
Victory for Italy would allow them to rest a few, notably Pirlo, against Uruguay so three points will be their priority and they are unlikely to be pegged back if grabbing the lead – it’s not in their psyche.
Italy/Italy in the HT/FT market looks a sound investment at 21/20 and the lively Immobile could be unleashed to do some damage. The Torino striker is 7/2 to be last goalscorer and his team are 10/11 to keep a clean sheet.
Italy v Costa Rica kicks off at 5pm UK time on Friday June 20th at the Arena Pernambuco, Recife.