Italy 0 Costa Rica 1: Cesare Prandelli's men facing bare knuckle fight against Uruguay to qualify from World Cup group


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The Independent Football

Costa Rica have ensured that there will be two major victims of the group of death and on Tuesday we will discover whether it will be Italy or Uruguay joining England face down on the carpet.

The contest in Natal will be a bare knuckle fight; whoever wins goes through, whoever loses goes home. If it is a draw, then Cesare Prandelli’s side will qualify on goal difference on account of having conceded only once to Costa Rica - compared to the three goals Uruguay allowed them to score in that astonishing second half in Fortaleza.

Nevertheless, after the victory Luis Suarez conjured for them against England, the momentum is surely with Uruguay. Perhaps because they had put so much into their 2-1 win over Roy Hodgson’s side in the Amazon, the Italians looked lethargic and, after Bryan Ruiz had scored, almost devoid of ideas. 

The excuses appeared rather lame. Thiago Motta blamed the heat which seems strange for someone born in Brazil. Prandelli thought Italy were far too slow and measured, as if they were banking on Costa Rica cracking when it was the four-time world champions who fell apart first.

The truth was that Italy attempted to win without expending too much energy or taking too many risks and were overcome by a Costa Rican side that was prepared to throw everything at them to take three points.

“We wanted to win and put them under pressure but we didn’t come to terms with the situation when the game took an unexpected turn,” said the Italy captain, Gianluigi Buffon. “We didn’t know how to respond and they took advantage of that.

“We simply cannot panic because of what has happened. We have to remember that the result of this game hasn’t changed anything because, when we came to Brazil, we knew we would probably have to get something against Uruguay. Now we know precisely what we have to do.”