After two defeats in their opening two games, England's 2014 World Cup campaign could come to an abrupt end as early as 6:45pm this Friday.
Anything other than an Italy win over Costa Rica, in the 5pm kick off, will see Roy Hodgson's side eliminated at the first possible point in the tournament.
Both Italy and Costa Rica are looking to continue their winning form after beating England and Uruguay respectively in their first games. The two will battle for top-spot in the group on Friday in Recife as the winner will pull clear of the rest of the pack and take a giant step towards second round qualification.
Costa Rica gave the tournament its first major upset by beating Uruguay 3-1 in a shock comeback victory. Joel Campbell has been the surprise breakout player from the Central American team. The Arsenal player opened the scoring goal for Los Ticos and was crucial in their on-going attack.
However, Uruguay were missing their star striker Luis Suarez from the match. It is to be seen how the Costa Rica back line hold up under the threat of a different world class striker in Mario Balotelli, who headed in the winning goal against England in Italy’s opening match.
A lingering question for the Azzurri though is if Mario and Luigi will be playing together. Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon missed the England game with a sprained ankle and his future in the tournament is suspect. Paris Saint-Germain keeper Salavtore Sirigu filled in against England.
Kick-off: Friday, 5pm
Italy 1 (Signorri) Costa Rica 0, Friendly, June 1994
Italy’s 93 percent pass completion against England is the highest ever recorded in the World Cup since 1966.
Costa Rica has never won two consecutive games at the World Cup, but the team has scored in all of their World Cup games against European teams.
In the last round of qualifying in CONCACAF, Costa Rica conceded the least amount of goals of all the teams by only letting in 7 goals in 10 matches.
Italy has not been held scoreless in their last 15 World Cup matches. The last time they failed to convert any chances was in 1998 when they lost to France.
Italy to win: 1.53
Costa Rica to win: 7.2
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