Italy v Costa Rica: World Cup 2014 match preview

A look ahead to Friday’s World Cup Group D encounter in Recife

Both Italy and Costa Rica will be looking to continue their winning form after beating England and Uruguay respectively in their first games.

LIVE: Follow the latest news from Italy v Costa Rica

The two will battle for top-spot in Group D in Recife with the winner pulling clear of the rest of the pack, however due to Uruguay's win over England, neither will be 100 per cent sure of a place in the Last 16, whatever the result.

Even England, who have lost their first two games, could still qualify should Italy win today.

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 laid on the third goal.

However, some may point to the fact Uruguay were missing their star striker Luis Suarez from that 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

Past meeting:

Italy 1 (Signorri) Costa Rica 0, Friendly, June 1994

Stats:

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.

Odds:

Italy to win: 1.53

Costa Rica to win: 7.2

Draw: 4.2

TV: Live on BBC One at 5pm

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